It's fair to say that challenger Bill Tallman has experience in city government. Stretching back decades, he's worked for various administrations around the country, typically for cities smaller than ours. But it's also fair to say Tallman doesn't know much about Albuquerque.
His motives are decent. When asked why he wants a Council seat, Tallman said, "I'd hate to see Brad Winter run unopposed." Fair enough. We wish there were more candidates in these local elections, too.
But Tallman's answers to our questions were vague and confusing. Often, he replied by saying he didn't really know much about the issues and therefore couldn't weigh in. Though we don't expect a layman to know process details, we assume those who come in for an endorsement interview will be familiar with the major concerns of the city.
There's no way we can endorse Tallman. He didn't inspire confidence in the Alibi panel. He's not clear about his positions. He seems like he'd be unapproachable to constituents, councilors or other folks he might need to work with.
Brad Winter, on the other hand, knows a lot about the Council, his district and Albuquerque overall. He should. He's served three terms. "I really think after 12 years, I've matured as a councilor."
He says he's worked to bring business to the eastern portion of the Paseo del Norte corridor. In general, he's tried to ensure growth and that older parts of his district have their infrastructure needs met.
The economy is the biggest problem in Albuquerque, and he says the answer is small business. "For a politician, that's a real cliché. But in the last 12 years, I’ve seen that that's what really makes a city go around." We've got to create opportunities for small businesspeople, he says.
Winter is the chief operations officer for Albuquerque Public Schools, so he's got a good view of our education woes. The Council can't dictate orders to APS, he says, but there are still ways it can help. Some city money goes to middle school initiatives and high school retention. He points to the community school model, which is where a school also serves as a health center and a hub for adult classes. Multiple agencies work together to make it happen. "Government can be a partner in education and improving the dropout rate. The collaboration factor is huge, and it's getting better."
Winter voted against the Department of Justice probe into APD and against the veto override. "Bringing in the DOJ, I don't know if you understand what that means. But the Department of Justice comes in, and they don't do anything quickly. We could have results, when they come in, in three years. We can't wait three years." He doesn't think it's a bad idea if they investigate, he adds.
Councilor Winter is perhaps the only candidate we interviewed who presented possible steps that could be taken. Under Mayor Martin Chavez, Winter says APD tried to quickly grow the force from 900 officers to 1,100. Requirements were lowered to make that happen. He says he’s open to the idea that officers should have a four-year degree. "When you put on a badge and give an officer a gun with all that authority, he better be mature enough and have been around a while to be able to handle that." It's within the Council's authority to make that recommendation, he says. "Maybe we need to pay more, eventually.”
The partisan divide shows up every time there's an election, Winter says, and that's not good or bad, it's just how things are. "Usually it works itself out." He says he gets along well with the left-leaning members of the Council, and he doesn't always agree lockstep with the other four Republicans.
As the Council’s longest-serving member, he's able to get a sense of the vibe as compared with previous iterations. This one is great, he says. "I've been on Councils that have been very dysfunctional for the fact that you have two of them in the side room getting ready to beat each other up." Councilors can disagree, but it's not personal, he says. "It's philosophy. It's representing our constituents. But then it's over."
Winter says he doesn't have any other political aspirations. "I'm going to be 60 years old in April. This is going to be my last term."
We endorse Winter. He’s fair-minded and candid, and we think he deserves one last shot to finish out his initiatives in District 4.