Candidate Q&A: Donna Rowe

Donna Rowe

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Position sought: Mayor

Age: 53

Occupation: Disabled; PT Executive director and case-manager for homeless and at-risk youth and young adults

Political Experience: Advocacy and activist work on behalf of many diverse and underserved populations within the city (20 years). Addressing many societal ills, I have been brought into the political realm many times. Despite the fact that this is my first time running for political office, I have been immersed in the process to one extent or another, thus learning a lot of how things work.

1) What’s your plan of action for three major citywide issues?

Being limited to only three, my most important issues in regards to Albuquerque’s many problems would be: 1) Addressing mental illness and drug addiction, which now are being dealt with by allowing crime to increase and continuing to inhumanely contribute to rampant jail overcrowding; 2) Poverty (which includes access to affordable housing and the decriminalization of and stopping the economic profiling of the poor and the homeless); 3) Human and Civil Rights equality for all, being overseen by a special department and by replacing our present police chief and better training of and accountability of our police officers so they are not only safe and taken care of, but also better understand the principle and importance of, “Protect and Serve.”

2) What do you offer that the other candidates don’t?

I can relate to real people and them to me. I am the people’s best advocate, the most transparent and accessible candidate and intend to stay that way. I have always been a “voice for the voiceless” and will always be. I will work toward a city of compassion and equality. I will insist on bringing back the implementation of all of Albuquerque’s citizens human and Civil Rights, those embedded in all our freedom documents. I will work toward a city where all these freedoms and rights, those that all of humanity are entitled to, become a reality. I know how to serve, not how to operate as a special interests and self-serving “dictator.” I recognize the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all. With these recognitions we can rebuild a foundation of freedom, justice and peace within our city.

3) How can we balance city growth with sustainability?

We don’t need to encourage city growth. It will happen internally. We don’t need to encourage bringing that growth from the outside. We are not ready. We need to take care of all of our citizens first. With local education and training we can focus on solarization and other forms of alternative energy of government buildings, small businesses (with help from the city), and eventually apartment complexes and people’s homes. We can do all of this internally. Embedded in many of my other answers to the other questions, I deal with possible solutions in regards to social and economic sustainability. In addressing environmental sustainability we need to look at solutions to improving the quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems. Within the city we need to address air quality, water supply and safe drinking water. The overall driver of human impact on our environment is the consumption and impact per unit of resource use. Sustainability applies demand management of goods and services by promoting reduced consumption, using renewable resources when possible and encouraging practices that minimize the need for more resources than are necessary while maximizing resource productivity. I will address the issues of the pollution of the Rio Grande from contaminates from LANL and air quality problems caused more by KAFB than by automobile use. Water use needs to be limited. Education and availability to all in regards to recycling needs to be encouraged. Buses should be seen as a alternative to driving.

4) What will you do to help city residents who are struggling with the economic downturn? Education. Job Training. Focusing on small business incentives and thus building more job opportunities within the city. Get the focus and incentives off of special interests and corporate welfare. Concentrate on building up our “own backyard” and its infrastructure and fixing the problems we have here and now. With these goals, we should see an economic improvement instead of a continuing downward spiral. We are wasting our valuable resources with the urban sprawl approach, the development of unincorporated areas. We just aren’t ready yet.

5) What’s your take on public transportation, and do you support modern rail? I do not support modern rail. We are not ready for it. There are more important and pressing issues that we need to put our resources into first. Possibly in the future. We need a bus system that is attractive and accessible to all, and one that takes into consideration the working poor and second- and third-shift workers. Studies have shown that money can actually be saved by offering either a free bus system or a “pay by honor system” type of approach. There are cities that designate the right lane to bus traffic only, making it more appealing to the people so they can get to where they need to go more quickly. Despite the claims that all our buses are ADA compliant, they are not, and that needs to be addressed. We need extended hours and routes that require no more than one transfer with a waiting period of no more than 10-15 minutes. No one should be denied service because of lack of money. The old “access program” needs to be reinstated: this helped the working poor get their children to and from daycare and get mom and/or dad to and from work.

6) What can be done to improve public safety?

We need to address the causes of crime first. Much of our increase in crime is correlated to the increase in poverty. Poverty, being not only cruel, breeds desperation in people. Our community centers need to expand their hours and days with increased access to a wide variety of activities—especially our youth centers. More grassroots agencies need to be supported—the very types of organizational programs that deal with both the systemic problems that grow out of poverty and also address the issues that cause much of the crime and violence occurring in our city (hunger, poverty, mental illness, drug addiction and domestic violence). I am told that the police receive more domestic violence calls than any other type except for DUI offenses. Certain crimes should be decriminalized. Drug addiction is an illness not a crime. Our rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech have been treated as a crime in this city. Our jails that house our citizens are cruel and unusual punishment, thus cause crime to increase by housing nonviolent offenders and the mentally ill and releasing them in a much worse condition. Poverty and homelessness need to be decriminalized. I also believe that prostitution should be regulated and then decriminalized.

7) How will you work with APS to improve education?

That’s the clue. Work with APS. They’re the experts. The teachers are the experts. We need to listen to their ideas and implement some innovative programs and implement solutions as proposed by our educational experts. We need to reciprocate. They serve our children. We need to serve and support them.

8) Do you support a city funded arena / events complex / hotel Downtown?

Perhaps someday in the future, but at this time, this is not a priority. There are more pressing issues that we need to be addressing instead of building a multimillion dollar facility that is not accessible to all. Food, not arenas and event complexes! Look at all the problems we have to address and I am sure most of you would agree that we need to clean up the “mess” first.
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