From where I am sitting, I am still watching the race for mayor, for city council, for approval of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance to happen. I’ll have voted and will be sitting in front of my terminal waiting for the results long before you read this analysis of what might happen. By the time you pick up a copy of this week’s Alibi, all of that, including my predictive written output will be history and you, gentle reader, will know the truth through actual experience.
Given the nature of that particular set of circumstances and phenomena, here’s what I am thinking about what will happen, and what you should know about how it’s actually going to happen. Are you with me, so far?
The initial 2017 campaign for mayor of Albuquerque is over. Lacking some last minute divine intervention from whatever heavenly—or hellish—forces were available at the time, Tim Keller handily took about 34% of the vote. That’s not enough to win the race outright. Remember, according to the city charter, a candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the vote to win the race outright. Otherwise there will be a runoff.
According to a poll in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, Tim Keller went into Tuesday’s election for mayor with a substantive lead; 29 percent of those polled said they’d vote for Keller. Two contenders, Dan Lewis and Brian Colón, trailed with 18 percent and 14 percent of the electorate favoring each, respectively. The news department at Weekly Alibi assumes Keller maintained that lead and offers the following possible outcomes for a potential runoff.
Assuming that the candidate who spent the most money in this campaign somehow gains last-minute traction with voters outside his chosen demographic, a runoff between these two Democratic Party stalwarts will probably focus on urban development issues, particularly those revolving around Santolina.
Although the proposed mega-development lies outside of the city limits, the next mayor will have a great deal of influence on whether the project goes forward. City of Albuquerque water resources will be needed to make the huge, proposed development to Burque’s west a reality. Keller has been clear about his opposition to the Santolina project, which resulted a slew of attack ads—promulgated by individuals and organizations with financial stakes in its success—leading up to Tuesday’s vote.
Meanwhile, Colón has repeatedly advertised himself as being for continued economic development on the Westside, refusing to discount the plans for Santolina as a potential drain to precious city resources. The difference in philosophies regarding the mega-development would form the the crux of any nonpartisan runoff for the mayor’s job.
A more likely scenario—which not only follows current polling trends, but also the predictions made by close watchers of New Mexico politics like Joe Monahan—sees a partisan runoff between Keller and Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis.
Lewis is a big supporter of Donald Trump. He’s been endorsed by the NRA as well as a pastor at a local mega-church. Legacy Church pastor Steve Smothermon posted his support for Lewis on social media because the Councilor “could never in any way, support the homosexual agenda.” Lewis has also been reluctant to say that he would approve of any proclamation regarding the city’s yearly Pride events, saying only that he will give “all proclamation proposals fair consideration.”
In contrast Keller, a Democrat currently serving as state auditor, continues to make his mark as a progressive leader. Keller’s proposed ABQ Works plan focuses on building the city economy by investing in local businesses. The state auditor’s solutions for quelling the outbreak of crime in the city focuses on community policing. Further, Keller has and continues to speak on the reasons underlying the spike in criminality currently affecting the Duke City. He realizes that working with the community to solve problems like homelessness and addiction are at the root of making our city a safer place to live.
Lewis, meanwhile, seems content to utter the same type of law and order dictums that drive his populist handlers in D.C.
The past creates a path to the future. Whether I am writing about it now so that you can understand it later—or these issues manifest and are consumed instantaneously on social media—it’s clear that Albuquerque progressives still have a big job ahead of them. Voting for ethical local development and against the cross-eyed visions of veritable representatives the same Republican party that elected a monstrous, maniacal president means that we must see this through, must continue to support Tim Keller as round two of what could well be an important cultural decision looms for Albuquerque’s citizens.
The runoff election for mayor of Albuquerque is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14. I’ll see you there.