The race for Mayor of Albuquerque is by far this election's most exciting issue … and it isn't even that exciting. Incumbent Richard Berry is throwing his hat in the ring for a second term, and both his impressive approval rating and early lead in the polls would seem to indicate a sound victory. Not that his term has been problem-free: A rash of APD shootings, a floundering economy and his wildly unpopular plan for a bosque “river walk” have earned him his share of vocal detractors. Still Berry's dignified but low-key presence has done little to alienate the voting public. His most visible accomplishments seem to involve the beautification of our dirty little town with trees, bushes and landscaping rocks—and once your eyes are done rolling about that priority, they'll be looking at a pretty intersection. … and vastly improved drainage for Lead and Coal during our recent deluge.
Running in distant second is former prosecutor (and Milhouse lookalike) Pete Dinelli. Dinelli ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor back in 1989 and served as a city councilor from 1985 to 1989. He's been a vocal critic of Berry's failure to correct dire shortcomings in Albuquerque's police department, and he has the support of both firefighters' and police unions. His close association with former mayor Martin Chavez as Director of Public Safety and leader of the Safe City Task Force could either hurt or help his campaign, depending upon whom you ask. Though the mayoral race is officially non-partisan, Dinelli is the only registered Democrat on the ticket, for what that's worth.
Barely showing up as a blip, retired APD sergeant Paul Heh is running on a no-nonsense, straight-talk platform, calling for an end to politics as usual. Heh claims he could have our police force straightened out in 90 days because he knows what the problems are. Despite his blue-collar appeal, Heh stands little chance of staging an upset.
The successful mayoral candidate must win by 50 percent of the votes. Otherwise, there will be a runoff election on Nov. 19. The mayor's term will begin on Dec. 1.