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 V.16 No.41 | October 11 - 17, 2007 

Election Wrap-up

Get to Know the People You Put in Office

Debbie O’ Malley: District 2Won Re-election
Debbie O’ Malley: District 2

Won Re-election

Debbie O'Malley: District 2

Won Re-election

Now that election season's over, what's the first thing you'll work on?

O'Malley thought she'd be able to take a couple days off before jumping back into the swing of things, but that's not the case. She's focusing on more collaboration between the city and nearby regions. "This is something that continues to come up. It's time we acted more like a region instead of just as a city. That's part of our conflict with the county."

How can the Council improve its relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez and vice versa?

Improved communication would help. For instance, the way press conferences are handled could be better, she says, which have actually become a joke among the councilors. "He has a press conference, and we have no idea what he's even talking about, and all of a sudden, we're supposed to comment on it. All of us hate that."

This was the first municipal election to use public financing. What's your overall impression of the system?

"It's a positive one, even though it has some problems," she says. O'Malley supported public financing two years ago when it was put to the voters as a ballot initiative. She used the system, which allows any candidate to use public money to run for office, for the first time this election cycle. But, she says, "there's a lot of confusion about what's what. The regulations need to be clarified."

Only about 10 percent of Albuquerque's registered voters went to the polls on Oct. 2. How can we improve turnout?

Voter turnout's bad across the nation, O'Malley says. "Someone brought up today that the turnout was low because we concentrated on the bickering instead of the real issues. I don't know if that's true or not." O'Malley adds that she doesn't know what can be done to help voter turnout, but the lack of participation is disappointing.

Brad Winter: District 4Won Re-election
Brad Winter: District 4

Won Re-election

Brad Winter: District 4

Won Re-election

Now that election season's over, what's the first thing you'll work on?

The first thing on Winter's plate is public safety, or what he calls, "the police issue." There aren't enough officers in the force, and that's becoming more apparent. Finally, says Winter, city administration told the Albuquerque Police Department it didn't have enough police. "They've always been playing games with the numbers," Winter says. "That's the first thing we're going to look at; how we're going to get more officers on the street."

How can the Council improve its relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez and vice versa?

"It's like a marriage," says Winter. "It takes two people to make it work." Winter adds the mayor has spoken to him a grand total of two times since the mayoral race, when Winter ran as Chavez' opponent. "It's not because I wasn't willing. It's just he was holding a grudge, I guess, because I ran for mayor." Winter says he's open to working with the administration, but he's not going to do whatever Chavez wants. That defeats the purpose of a government arranged with checks and balances in place, he says.

This was the first municipal election to use public financing. What's your overall impression of the system?

"I didn't like the way public financing money was used. That's taxpayer money," says Winter, a vocal opponent of public financing. Paulette de'Pascal, using the new system, ran against Winter and received more than $30,000 in public funds. "I never raised a whole lot of money to run for City Council," Winter says. "I almost felt like I had to at least get close [to $30,000] because of all the negative mail her campaign was sending out."

Only about 10 percent of Albuquerque's registered voters went to the polls on Oct. 2. How can we improve turnout?

Winter says he doesn't know how to improve voter turnout. "In an off election, when there's no mayor's race, the City Council race is always slow."

Rey Garduño: District 6Won Election
Rey Garduño: District 6

Won Election

Rey Garduño: District 6

Won Election

Now that election season's over, what's the first thing you'll work on?

Garduño would like to work on improving the public transportation system. Not only major streets should have frequent buses, he says, adding that small, fuel-efficient buses should run in the adjoining neighborhoods to make public transportation a viable option for everyone. He's also got his eye on sustainability and sprawl. "We need to start asking the really tough questions, like: When do we stop this sprawl development and start paying attention to infill and redevelopment—and not just as cute terminology?"

How can the Council improve its relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez and vice versa?

"We need to get away from this personality stuff," Garduño says. This isn't about him, and it's not about the mayor, he adds. "It's about the city, and there should be deliberation." He says there are sure to be times when they disagree, but that should never be the issue. "I will not engage in banter about who's the cleverest or who's the best at throwing sharp barbs at the other." Garduño wants to engage in discussion about what the city needs. "If people are amenable to that, I'm ready to make it happen."

This was the first municipal election to use public financing. What's your overall impression of the system?

"It's the only way to elect people," Garduño says. "We need to take it to the state level, and we need to take it to the federal level." He's on the governing council of Common Cause New Mexico, an organization that pushed for publicly financed elections to find a place on the ballot two years ago. Garduño and his staff felt very good about the way things happened on public financing's maiden voyage. "Had I been out there—probably for the whole time—under a traditional system, I'd have been asking for money rather than discussing issues."

Only about 10 percent of Albuquerque's registered voters went to the polls on Oct. 2. How can we improve turnout?

Turnout is abysmal, Garduño says. Why do we hold these municipal elections off cycle? The message to voters about city elections and school board elections seems to be "these are not important enough for you to worry about," he says. We should consider holding all elections together as part of a regular cycle, with Election Day always on the first Tuesday in November. "I want to see why we aren't holding these elections at the same time that we're electing our senators, our representatives and our president."

Trudy Jones: District 8Won Election
Trudy Jones: District 8

Won Election

Trudy Jones: District 8

Won Election

Now that election season's over, what's the first thing you'll work on?

Jones doesn't have a specific project in mind to begin with when she's sworn in at the end of this month. Instead, she's trying to educate herself on the work of Councilor Craig Loy, who presently holds her district's seat. "We're trying to amass the funds to do a community center in District 8," Jones says. "We need some roadwork and some median work."

How can the Council improve its relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez and vice versa?

The mayor-Council fight has got to go, says Jones. "We need to look at the city, and what needs to be done for the city, not what needs to be done to fight with the mayor or for the mayor to fight with the Council." It's time for everyone to take a deep breath, she says, and start thinking about what they were elected to do.

This was the first municipal election to use public financing. What's your overall impression of the system?

Jones is not in favor of public financing at any level. Citizens didn't even know what it was, she says. "Most of them didn't know that we had one district where we paid three candidates almost $30,000 each to run for office." Tax money shouldn't be going toward political races, she adds. "If you can't get enough support from the general public to run for an office, you shouldn't be running."

Only about 10 percent of Albuquerque's registered voters went to the polls on Oct. 2. How can we improve turnout?

Educating the citizens is the only way Jones can foresee improving voter turnout. "When I was walking door to door to get signatures to get on the ballot, I was amazed at the number of people who aren't registered or who have no idea who their city councilor is—or any elected official, really." People need to realize city elections, the City Council and the mayor have a big impact on our daily lives, she adds.

Don Harris: District 9Not Recalled
Don Harris: District 9

Not Recalled

Don Harris: District 9

Not Recalled

Now that election season's over, what's the first thing you'll work on?

Harris calls improvement of the East Central corridor his long-term legacy. He wants to alter the way the area looks and bring businesses back into it. First, he'll need to change some of the land-use zoning in that region. "It really has a lot of potential," he says. "It's the East gateway to the city. It's surrounded by a lot of high-income neighborhoods."

How can the Council improve its relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez and vice versa?

"I have really come to the conclusion, a fairly firm one, that it's mostly driven by the 11th floor," Harris says. The mayor does not like to share power, he adds, and Chavez wants to have everything his way. But if the mayor were willing to negotiate, old wounds would begin to knit themselves back up. "He really wants to be perceived as strong and in-control, and he will push for that perception even when it's self-defeating and not in his best interests."

This was the first municipal election to use public financing. What's your overall impression of the system?

Harris didn't like the way some of the fund-matching happened. If a privately financed candidate raises more than a publicly financed opponent, that opponent is supposed to receive matching funds from the city's coffers. Unfortunately, some of this doesn't get sorted out until just a few days before the election, leaving the publicly financed candidate little time to spend that money. Harris also fears the cost to the city in a mayoral race, when candidates spend 10 times as much on a campaign.

Only about 10 percent of Albuquerque's registered voters went to the polls on Oct. 2. How can we improve turnout?

Harris says he doesn't know how to improve voter turnout. "I was so involved in my recall effort that I was really just concerned about myself."

 
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