District 2: North Valley
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
The Alibi endorses: Debbie O’Malley
Councilor Debbie O'Malley, who's running unopposed this year, says the relationship between Democratic councilors and the mayor has grown increasingly strained. "The ideology starts to take over. We started seeing this first with the immigration issue." When the Council tried to get the city's budget together, the partisan divide became clear. "The budget was it. That was like, Yeah, there are Republicans and Democrats on that Council."
During that heated meeting, O'Malley walked out before the vote. "I lost my temper." Amendments materialized suddenly and were forced through by the Council's five conservative members. She was cut off while trying to speak about the issue, she says.
O'Malley's been on the Council two terms, and she's come back for another. She's known for the workforce housing project she spearheaded. Because of her work, homeless folks in Albuquerque can find jobs and housing. With the project, the city offers funds to developers looking to put up mixed-use buildings close to public transportation and social services. The developers partner with nonprofits to offer opportunities to homeless people.
She's got plenty of accomplishments under her belt. She sponsored legislation to give local businesses a 10 percent preference when seeking contracts with the city. She says about half of all goods and services used by the city come from local sources. "I was hearing from businesses that they couldn't compete in other cities" because those cities have preference rules in place, she says. Local businesses also felt outside companies were snatching up Albuquerque contracts. The 10 percent in-town advantage neatly answers both concerns.
Councilor O'Malley says she's proud of the future Rail Runner stop she pushed for at Montaño and Edith. There has to be even more dedicated transit near the bridge, she adds. "There would be a lot of resistance to expanding that roadway," she says.
She also worked to create unique and flexible zoning along Fourth Street that allows people to change the use of their property easily. "When things start to turn around, I think that's going to be a good thing."
She stands in favor of the proposed Downtown event complex, which we’re not crazy about, given the state of the economy. It's not an arena. And it's not a renovation of the Convention Center, which she says is falling apart and beyond repair. It'd be a headquarters hotel and center that should help bolster the drooping convention biz. Conventions bring big business to Burque—billions every year, she says.
From a political point of view, she says she doesn't understand the mayor's veto of the measure requesting that the Department of Justice look into APD. The constituents have turned out in big numbers to support it, and vetoing the plea just drags the issue out. "The Council felt there was a gap in leadership there,” and that's when the Council has to get involved, she says. "I prefer to see what the mayor does. That's his job."
We're happy to endorse O'Malley. She's a straight-shooter who's got the trust of her North Valley constituents, and she's done a lot of good for the city.