Former state Sen. Richard Romero is gunning for Mayor Martin Chavez' job. Here's more of what he had to say during his sit-down with the Alibi. (See the original article here.
Mayoral term limits
Romero put a term limit on his job as president pro tem of the Senate, he says. "Executive positions like president, governor, mayor, leaders in the Senate and the House, need to be term-limited because of abuse. Those positions lead to entrenched politics like we have here." Legislators don't need such limits, he adds. "Otherwise we lose the institutional history."
He sits on the national board of Public Campaign, an organization that’s pushing for public financing at the federal level. "I like it. I'd make a few changes," he says of Albuquerque’s system. Instead of six weeks for collecting contributions, he'd extend it to eight weeks. "We did it, but man, it was a lot of pressure."
The city workers' union endorsement going to Chavez
The mayor strong-armed the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Romero contends. "They were looking at their own interests. He's never been good on labor issues." Unions outside the city sphere of influence endorsed Romero, he adds. "The rank-and-file really feel differently, and I think Election Day, they're going to speak."
All-ages shows and Warehouse 508
Romero says it's wrong to mix adults who are drinking with underage show attendees. "I'm very traditional about young people. I think we need to do whatever it is that we have to do to make sure they're successful.” When asked about the city’s upcoming all-ages venue, he asked, “508, which one is that?" The money for the warehouse should instead be spent on middle schools and after-school programs, he finishes. "Are there any kids in that [508’s] neighborhood?"
Modern rail and transportation
A streetcar is possible in the distant future, he says. "Right now we have greater needs, and I'd like to see our bus transportation improved, our streets repaired, our parks improved."
Public transit should service the entire city, he says, not just certain segments. "We have to change the culture we have here. We're Westerners. We're in love with our cars. They're convenient." To compete, public transportation must be reliable and on-time. "It's going to have to be at all hours."
Albuquerque needs to pass the quarter-cent transportation tax, he says. "We're going to need the money."
Downtown revitalization and an arena
Former Mayor Jim Baca had the right idea when he involved the private sector in Downtown revitalization during his term.
Romero was a big supporter of the arena concept when it was first proposed by Chavez. "As a matter of fact, if you look at the video, I was out there standing with him on First and Central giving him a big kiss on the cheek, because he'd proposed it. It was a private development kind of thing." But the well has been poisoned, Romero adds. Instead of just an arena, Chavez is talking about a hotel and a Convention Center facelift. "Expenditures like that need broad public support." The arena needs a brand-new start at a later date, he concludes.
"That's a real tough one," Romero says. "Many are developmentally disabled and need help." The social service network must step up and address that problem, he adds. "We need to get our communities behind us to help us." No city in the country has a handle on homelessness, he continues.
If social service programs are showing positive results, Romero says they should receive more money.
He attended the Gay Pride Parade in 2009. Benefits for same-sex partners of city employees were put in place by Mayor Baca, not Chavez, Romero points out. "I've got a record. I supported domestic partner issues. I lobbied during this last session with Equality New Mexico. Hate crimes, I been there in the forefront."
"The minute I got in, I would do an immediate audit.” The program has no accountability, he says. The addition of the speed cameras is problematic and should be suspended immediately, he continues. Red-light cams may have some benefits, but the program’s execution has been grossly mishandled, he finishes. "I'm always for any public safety measure that saves lives."