Community Pick: Richard Berry, Mayor Of Albuquerque

Community Pick

7 min read
(Sergio Salvador
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Best Thing About Being Mayor So Far

The chance to work with the city employees—just working with dedicated people who get up every day and try to make the city a better place. They’re all over. They’re at the Solid Waste Department, the Fire Department, they’re in the administration at City Hall. I just run into people over and over again who bring so much energy to their jobs. Plus, you get a chance to sit with people who are creative and have good ideas on how to move the city forward.

Worst Thing About Being Mayor So Far

I enjoy the work a lot. These are difficult times. There are long days and difficult decisions that have to be made.

The biggest surprise was how you lose control of your schedule. I’ll come in at 8:30 in the morning and think I know what my day looks like, and by the end, I’ve had five meetings changed and six more added. People said, You’ll have to have someone help you with your schedule. And I thought, Well, that sounds crazy. But now that I’m here, I can understand that there are so many people that want to sit and talk.

Best Albuquerque Landmark

Man; it depends on what kind of a landmark. The Tram is certainly interesting. I’m a contractor, and I like cool buildings. We’ve got a lot of them here. Architecturally, there are some Downtown that I think are meaningful. The Banque building is architecturally significant, and the old Albuquerque High School.

When people think about Albuquerque, they think about The Pit. I was an athlete at UNM. I was on the track team.

Best Local Sports Team

Got to be the Lobos. I go to track meets. I go to football games. We’ve been longtime ticket-holders for Lobo football and basketball. I’m going to try to catch a couple of Lobo baseball games.

I love the Isotopes as well, but if I have to go with my favorite, it’s got to be the Lobos, man.

Best Way to Relax

I’m a huge live music fan. Last week Maria and I had a date night. We went down to St. Clair Winery and listened to Soul Kitchen, which you know that’s Chris Dracup and Hillary Smith and those guys. Really for me, that is a great way to relax.

Best Local Band or Musician

There’s so many. Let me just run down a list: Cadillac Bob, Dan Dowling and those guys. I think Stan Hirsch is a great local musician. When I was in college, we had the Broadway Elks. Let’s go back to the mid ’80s. Chris Dracup was in a group called The Mutts, and we had the Strawberry Zots. The Eyeliners are a great band. I mean, they travel a lot now. Maria and I got a chance to see them at the punk festival a couple years ago.

The Sultans were a favorite band of mine. Anything. It’s fun for us to get down to the Launchpad and El Rey. I get fired up about live music.

Favorite Local Arts Organization

There are so many. But probably Creative Albuquerque.

Best Use of City Money

Public safety is a priority for me. If people don’t feel safe in their homes, and if we’re not protecting their lives and their property … . And then anything you can boil down to core basic service, whether it’s picking up trash or giving our citizens affordable recreational activities.

Worst Use of City Money

Our job is to be good stewards of the tax dollar. If there are redundancies, if we’re doing the same thing twice or if we have two different departments doing the same thing—we’re going to start looking at those issues.

Best Place to Bike

We use the trail up and down Tramway quite a bit. A lot of times we’ll mountain bike in the open space, so we’re not on a bike path per se. It’s not too far for some to commute to City Hall, but me … . There are others that could commute that mileage but I don’t know if I’m in the shape to do it.

Best Place to Walk Your Dog

I do have a dog. His name is Skip, and he’s a Jack Russell terrier. We run him around the neighborhood. He runs with my wife in the morning, and he runs with me in the evening. We live fairly close to the Open Space.

Best Way to Get Some Exercise

I lift weights. I don’t do as much cardio as I used to, but I do some. I got a chance to coach my son’s basketball team this year, too.

Food You Have to Eat at Least Once a Week

Green chile or red chile. Chile and beans. I eat a lot of tuna.

Best News for Local Businesses

We’re an entrepreneurial city and we’re a creative city. Even though we’re in one of the worst recessions a lot of us have seen in our lifetime, I’m optimistic as a mayor. We’re going to get through this. It’s going to take some tough decisions, and we’re all going to have to row together. I’d like to see us lead the nation if we can. We were late coming into this recession. We’re seeing it now. It’s difficult. But we are going to move out of it. But even in the midst of it, this is still a good place to do business.

Best News for Albuquerque’s Environment

That we have a city government that understands conservation is important. We still have a lot of low-hanging fruit we can pick on conservation. We have millions of dollars that we are taking from City Hall and putting into our senior centers and community centers to make these buildings more energy efficient. We’re going to be a center of clean energy or green-economy-type things.

Best Newscaster

Oh, no. They’re all so great. I don’t want to pick one, but I will tell you that as I travel and watch the newscasts in other cities—many of which are larger markets than ours—I think our local news people in Albuquerque blow them away. We’ve got great anchors and news directors who do a good job of bringing forward stories that are important to the people of Albuquerque. We’ve got a good news industry here.

Best Project by a Former Mayor

One of the best things that’s been accomplished here is the San Juan-Chama. And that goes back decades. So that’s not just one mayor. That started before Harry Kinney. There were people that made what at the time was an unpopular decision to get these water rights lined up. That was 40-plus years ago. Watching that through the process, almost every mayor has had a hand in that. The last mayor worked with other elected officials to get the facilities built. That’s a meaningful project.

Best Summer Event

I like the events at the zoo, the music events. You may be aware, this year we’re going to take Summerfest out into the community. Instead to of having all the Summerfests on Civic Plaza, we’re going to have one on Civic Plaza and we’re going to have one in Nob Hill and some on the Westside. Each year, we’ll move them around.

Best Local Website or Blogger

I make the rounds on the blogs. I’m not an everyday blog-reader. I think they’re a very important part of the information exchange. Being in the Mayor’s Office, I don’t get a chance to do as much of that as I used to.

Favorite Charities

One of the cool things about being the mayor is that you get to do the Mayor and First Lady’s Charity Gala. [Editor’s note: This year’s event benefits ARCA, The Barrett Foundation, Silver Horizons New Mexico and The Harmony Project.] Albuquerque, as I look at it, has a tremendous heart for giving.

—Marisa Demarco

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