The title of this section of our annual Best of Burque readers poll seems a bit vague, doesn't it? "Life in Burque." What does that mean, exactly? Is our existence summed up by the flaws of our elected officials, by the who's who of local celebrities, by the best and worst ways we spend our public money? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. "Life in Burque" should, at the very least, apply to the entire landscape of the Best of Burque ballot--arts, music, shopping, etc.--but even that would leave us lacking. The joyful reality of it is that no reader survey, no matter how mammoth, could even come close to capturing what it means to live in Albuquerque. Which is a wonderful thing.
Still, the political life of our city--from the ways we put our dollars to good use to the ways we waste them--does represent who we are. The passion that fuels our most altruistic organizations is also certainly a part of us. And our local personalities and athletes are a fundamental piece of what makes us and our city unique.
Hence, “Life in Burque.” Live it well, Burqueños.
Worst City Political Stinkeroo
Mayor Martin Chavez
Keeping with tradition, Mayor Martin Chavez garnered awards for both biggest political stinkeroo and best elected city official. One thing we can say about Marty is he seems to elicit passion in our readers. Why? Because he's a put-my-face-on-a-billboard-petting-my-dog kind of guy. Marty's all about the PR and, however we end up feeling about the mayor, he gets our attention.
Why was he elected Stinkeroo by our readers? Maybe it's the fact that, despite his fluffy animal-lover persona, he still hasn't done much to solve the problems with the city's animal shelters. Maybe it's because two years ago he tried to shut down all-ages shows in bars. Or perhaps people still cling to the memory of the ABQPAC scandal. Then again, maybe it's because Marty's the main proponent behind the city's red-light cameras, or because he tried to close most of APS' after-school programs. Or maybe its due to the way he earned his moniker, Midnight Marty, by restriping Montaño in the middle of the night ...
And, of course, we can't forget about our runners-up.Heather Wilsonmade second place for this category (we don't even need to explain that one) and red-light cameras, the city's newest hot-button issue, slid into third.
Best Nonprofit Organization
Assistance League of Albuquerque
A community is measured by how well it treats its citizens, which is usually something that can be pinpointed in the quality of its nonprofits. Albuquerque must be filled with some of the most philanthropic citizens in the Southwest, because we have a slew of great community organizations. This year, the Assistance League of Albuquerque won the hearts of our readers and snagged first place. From delivering "chemo caps" to cancer patients and booties, blankets and afghans to preemies, to giving 25,000 teddy bears to traumatized children, the Assistance League has a long-standing place in the community. Watermelon Mountain Ranch, a no-kill animal shelter dedicated to outreach and therapeutic programs, came in second while the Roadrunner Food Bank placed third.
Best Elected City Official
Mayor Martin Chavez
Albuquerque has some kind of love/hate thing going on with its mayor/king. It can't be emotionally healthy for our city to choose this guy as the top city official and the “Worst Political Stinkeroo.” Sounds like Burque has daddy issues. Also, it's worth mentioning that though Gov. Bill Richardson took second place in this category, he's not actually a city official. He's the governor of the state. That's the boss of all New Mexico. Third-place champion Council President Debbie O'Malley, on the other hand, is actually an elected city official, so if she claims second place on her résumé, no one will complain.
Best Use of Local Tax Dollars
When it came to telling us what they want out of their hard-earned tax dollars, our readers gave it to us straight and simple: Schools. Libraries. Road repairs. No fancy streetcar systems or quieting of the trains. Just the essentials. Hear that, city officials? Remember it come election season. Hell, remember it all year.
Most Wasteful Use of Local Tax Dollars
Just when you think you're sick of hearing about stupid camera citations, one shows up in the mail, and there goes 100 bucks—at the very least. The camera program is said to pay for itself. Money from the tickets funds the cameras' purchase and operation. We're not really sure if that counts as tax dollars, exactly, but it's certainly taxpayer money. The glowing Tricentennial Towers rang up a bill of more than $800,000 and won the distinction of a silver medal in this honorific category. The widely joked about giant pots on I-40 roped the bronze. What's with all the hostility toward public art?
Best Radio Station
KUNM 89.9 FM
Albuquerque's beloved college radio station finally plowed its way into the top spot this year with its eclectic, homegrown programming, knocking previous corporate radio front-runner 100.3 The Peak into second place. 104.7 The Edge snagged third—a product of its heavy promotional efforts and DJ "edgifying" effort over past year.
Best Radio Personality
If this were a political race, we would investigate the black box voting machines for evidence of tampering—Donnie Chase runs away with this category every year. Burque loves its dose of Donnie in the morning. Buck and Dex, the rabble-rousing morning show duo from 104.7 The Edge, took second place with radio talk show host/comedian Jim Villanuccifrom 770 KKOB nabbing third. Sorry boys, no recount. Our vote tally is a strictly closed-door operation.
Best TV Personality
Never mind the name. Steve Stucker is not only an amiable animal advocate, bringing adoptable critters to his appearances on KOB Channel 4, he's also the guy our readers like to look at the most when they turn on the telly for their news and weather updates. And who can blame them? With teeth that bright, how could we not be entranced?
KOAT Channel 7’s Cynthia Izaguirre also took home the love from our readers with her second-place win, and meteorologist Mark Ronchetti(or should we say Mark Ron-cutie?) from KRQE grabbed third.
Best Local TV Commercial
Oh, Beaver Toyota. What is it our readers love so much about your commercial?
Is it the incredible production value? The unparalleled bargains on your top-of-the-line vehicles? Linda's stunning fashion sense (dig those tight pants)? We're not really sure, but there's one thing we can say: Our readers like your stuff. Thanks for the good times.
Best Local Sports Team
We think they have the best sports team name ever, but that's probably not why you voted for them. This minor league affiliate of the Florida Marlins, with its beautiful stadium and cheap grass seats, won your hearts. The ever-hardy UNM women's basketball team has been there for fans consistently, even when their male counterparts couldn't win an away game if their lives depended on it. Second place goes to those hardworking ladies. The Lobos in general took third place. The desert's own hockey team, the Scorpions, came in fourth.
Best Local Athlete
We're not sure Chicago Bears' Brian Urlacher counts as a local anymore or that the Loveland, N.M., native ever did, at least for more than his few semesters at the University of New Mexico. But the Super Bowl and Urlacher’s tireless promotion of all things New Mexican pushed him to the top of this category, anyway. Maybe it's Holly Holm's flowing blond locks or her uncanny ability to beat the living crud out of opponents and still say sweet things about them afterward, but Holm's your girl in this poll with the No. 2 slot. Basketball hero Katie Montgomery stands proud at third.
Building Most in Need of Restoration
The beautiful and the crumbling—it's a tale of one building, standing against time, a tortured home for Insane Clown Posse, KRS-One and The Specials, among many others. Our readers believe it is clearly the one building in Burque most in need of some tender lovin' repairs. La Posada Hotel and the Hiland Theatre walked away with the honors for second and third place, respectively.
Best Place to Take Out-of-town Guests
Great Aunt Martha and Uncle Joe are visiting for the weekend. They want to get a sense of what your chosen city is all about, but they don't have time to explore all the chile stops and paleterias in your neighborhood. Where's the one place to take them for the archetypal Albuquerque experience? According to our readers, that place is the Tram. And we agree: What better to way to see the whole city than from a metal basket hovering hundreds of feet above the ground? Seriously, everyone loves the Tram. It's bookended by hiking trails and has some of the best views in the city. And we suspect Aunt Martha will love it, too.
Other hot spots for out-of-towners include Old Town, which racked in enough votes for second place, and El Pintorestaurant, which made third.
Best Local Website
Duke City Fix has reinvented the way Albuquerqueans think about blogs. A community forum that muses on topics ranging from news to theater to music to the just plain strange and speculative, DCF’s communal vibe has a cherished place in Burque’s heart. Ever-evolving and always interesting, Duke City Fix has become a staple of our online neighborhood. As a nice ego-booster, www.alibi.complaced second in this category, while the city's revamped website at www.cabq.gov took third.