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Council Watch

People of District 5

NW citizens choose new councilor

By Carolyn Carlson

Courtesy Lionsgate Films/Scholastic Books
Voters living in the far northwest part of Burque must choose between two candidates vying for an open city council seat during the upcoming Nov. 14 election. Current two-term Republican Councilor Dan Lewis vacated his seat to run for mayor where he faces Democrat Tim Keller in a Nov. 14 runoff election.

What?

There are nine city council districts. District 5 encompasses a diverse area sitting northwest above the banks of the Rio Grande, roughly around the Paseo Del Norte and Coors intersection area. City Council elections are officially nonpartisan, but party politics routinely seep in to our local races. With Councilor Lewis basically a lame duck there are currently five Democrats and three Republicans, with his open seat being a small tipper in the balance between parties on the city council, who will work with either a Keller or Lewis administration.

Who?

Candidates Cynthia Borrego (D) and Robert Aragon (R) both say controlling crime is the top issue for this district. Both say the police department needs to ramp up their numbers to about 1,200 sworn officers on the the streets to better protect and serve residents.

Aragon, an attorney, is a former state representative who serves on the state Board of Finance. Aragon told Weekly Alibi he was a registered Democrat until 2012 when he jumped over to the Republican party. He was born and raised on the city’s Westside, and is a graduate of West Mesa High School and UNM’s School of Law. He has served on several boards and commissions at both the state and local level. Aragon ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state auditor in 2014 against Tim Keller. He supports increasing the number of police officers to battle the city’s high crime rate. He says he does not support the Healthy Workforce Ordinance, believing it might hurt hiring by businesses. He comes from a political family: His dad, Bennie Aragon, was a State Representative; his sister, Margaret Aragon, served as this city’s First Lady when she was married to former Mayor Martin Chavez; Manny Aragon is his cousin.

Borrego is an experienced former Albuquerque city and Bernalillo county planner. She currently is a self-employed businesswoman after having a successful career in state and local government planning. She has two masters degrees, in public administration and in community and regional planning. She says she is running because she wants to change the perception that Burque is in decline. Borrego says to fight crime successfully the city needs to not only support the police department but also bring in strong mental and substance abuse programs, jobs, and other support to fully address root causes of crime. She currently serves on the area’s flood control board. She has described herself as a conservative Democrat. Borrego supports a Healthy Workforce Ordinance if it includes input from business owners.

Say What?

Weekly Alibi asked both candidates to send a short blurb to us about why voters should choose them to sit at the council table. The results were candid, compelling and unedited.

Here is what candidate Cynthia Borrego had to say: “I’m running for City Council to bring a new direction to Albuquerque. As a former city planner, I bring a new way of thinking to City Hall. APD must be reformed, I have a five-point plan to combat crime, and it’s been endorsed by [the] police and fire [departments]. I have a four-point plan to bring jobs back to Albuquerque. We need an economy that works for everyone, and we need to invest into public education. Voters have a choice to make: Go forward with my candidacy or backward with my opponent who supports R.J. Berry’s failed crime and economic policies.”

Here is what candidate Robert Aragon sent us, in the third person: “Robert Aragon is a candidate for Albuquerque's Westside City Council District 5. Robert and his wife, Peggy, raised their three daughters on the Westside. Robert is a small business owner, community advocate, former State Representative and currently sits on the New Mexico Board of Finance. Robert is running because he sees the possibilities and promise of Albuquerque. Robert Aragon’s experienced leadership is what Albuquerque needs to ignite a prosperous renewal. Robert will advocate on the Council to effectively hold criminals accountable while wholly supporting APD, develop solutions that will bring success to our schools and work with new and existing businesses to grow our economy.”

Go Vote!

There you go Westside voters. There are approximately 43,000 registered voters in District 5, with basically a 50-50 split between the donkeys and elephants. Now get yourself to the polls on Nov.14. Log on to www.cabq.gov/voting-elections to find out all you need to know about where to go to cast a vote.

Send your comments about the City Council to carolyn@alibi.com.

The next meeting
Monday, Nov. 6, 5pm
Vincent E. Griego Chambers
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center
1 Civic Plaza NW
View it on GOV TV 16 or at cabq.gov/govtv
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