Alibi V.21 No.20 • May 17-23, 2012 

Primary Election Guide 2012

County Commissioner

District 4, Republican candidates

Salary: $29,569/year

Term: Four years

Tasks: Responsible for the budget (more than $212 million this fiscal year), lawmaking, business regulation and zoning in unincorporated areas

District: North Albuquerque Acres, Sandia Heights, the far North Valley, Paradise Hills and the far Northeast Heights

Michael Wiener Lonnie Talbert
Background: Wiener served as an Albuquerque city councilor for one term and as a state senator for one term. He’s seeking a second term on the BernCo Commission. Background: He's the COO for Heritage Home Healthcare & Hospice and was once the chairman for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. He didn’t come in for an interview, so all the information presented here we had to glean online.
Jail Overcrowding: More than 40,000 people go through the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center every year. Wiener says some people should be given alternative options. He spearheaded an effort to relieve budget woes by having volunteer inmates make uniforms and repair mattresses. He'd like to see aquaponic farming of tilapia and vegetables to provide healthy, affordable food for inmates. Jail Overcrowding: Among his Facebook notes is a mention of how Wiener voted with Democrats to release frightening criminals from MDC to handle overcrowding. That fact has been widely debated.
Property Tax: Sudden spikes should be avoided, Wiener says, and taxes should be predictable. We must avoid the disparity of people in older homes paying less than people in newer homes, he adds. That deters construction. Wiener also supports a tax cap so elderly people aren't taxed out of their homes. Property Tax: "The better and more cash rich our bank account is, the less taxes we have to go out and raise," Talbert says in a YouTube video. But taxes shouldn't be raised, he adds. The tax base must be improved instead. We're unclear about what that means, but you, reader, should look up the video "Lonnie on County Taxes" for fun.
Water: Wiener says he would fight future water rate increases, which seem to be a penalty for conservation. He says he'd examine bloating in Water Utility Authority bureaucracy. The use of wastewater septic tanks—which can potentially pollute—in the far North Valley must be ended. The county sewer system has to be extended to households in that region. Water: There’s nothing on his campaign websites or social networking pages about these issues.
Transparency: The county won a national award for its website, he says, which allows people to look at the names and salaries of all employees. Meetings are posted well in advance, he adds. Transparency: He's for it. He’s really for it.
On His Scandal: "I pose for pictures all the time," he says. "I wasn't doing anything wrong, so I didn't think there was a problem." He says the photographers asked him to take a photo. He explains that Angeles City is a huge tourist area, and 400,000 people live there. "I don't know what the big deal is." On Wiener's Scandal: Talbert decries inappropriateness while someone sings a version of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" in one of his YouTube campaign videos. In an April 25 Facebook post, he wrote: "Just saw a preview of tonights [sic] news showing a photo of 'a Bernalillo County Commissioner' surrounded by what the preview called - the sex trade. Definitely tuning in for that!"
Overall: Wiener speaks well in person and is able to address the specific concerns of his district. But he's often in trouble for unprofessional behavior, such as making racist or sexist jokes and being photographed in a red-light district. These days, when trust—and subsequently interest—in political bodies is at an all-time low, democracy can't afford mistakes like those. We can't endorse Wiener. Overall: Talbert's unspoken campaign slogan seems to be "Not Michael Wiener," which might be enough for plenty of voters. His website and social network pages lack basic substance, even for a challenger who doesn't have experience in the position he's seeking. The Alibi editorial board can’t endorse someone it’s never met.
Website: Website: