Municipal Election

municipal election

V.18 No.41 | 10/8/2009

Thin Line

Election in a Can

We sweat. We toiled. We tried to frame questions so mayoral candidates would give us something other than the polished nuggets espoused on their websites. But if this election cycle had one theme for me, it's this: The sound bites win again.

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Final Results

Mayor: R.J. Berry

D1: Ken Sanchez

D3: Isaac Benton

D5: Dan Lewis

D7: Michael Cook

D9: Don Harris

Quarter-Cent Transportation Tax: Yes

All the bonds: Yes

All the propositions: Yes

Marisa Demarco


Romero: People Wanted a Change

"You know what? I really thought you were going to pull this off." That's a young woman at Richard Romero's house consoling him as the news station scrolls disappointing numbers across the screen. "It wasn't for lack of effort," says a young man in a suit. "That's what we didn't know, was how many would just vote for Berry."

"You ready to go outside?" asks KOB reporter Eric Kahnert. Romero exits his home first, followed by his core campaign staff. Under the blinding spotlight outside, he waits to acknowledge his loss live on television. The cameraman works on the shot. Supporters continue to trickle out of the house, and keys emerge from pockets. They're ready to head home. They shake hands with the man they thought would be the next mayor.

A monitor on the ground next to the news van is flickering. Romero leans down, and the reporter squats next to him. They watch Mayor Martin Chavez give a not-quite concession speech. Family and friends lean in for the view. Chavez says something about a "first-class transition."

Now to Romero. He says all the right things. Berry was a gentleman during the campaign. And Romero's own campaign was up against the machine at City Hall, he points out. People wanted a change, and they're going to get one.

But is it a good change? That's what I ask after the cameras are off and the friends disperse. "I think it will be," he says. "I was not happy with the way things were going."

And then there's the elephant in the room. In this nonpartisan race, it seems Republican Berry nailed down the conservative vote, while Romero and Chavez split the Dems down the middle. "Obviously the Republican Party coalesced around Berry," Romero says. "That's the way it works. Independents played a huge part in this, too."

But that's not the last you'll hear from Romero. He's been in politics a long time. He's won some. He's lost some. "I've been down this road before," he says.

V.18 No.41 | 10/8/2009
That moustache smells victory in Albuquerque.
Eric Williams


Live Mayoral Race Updates

The moustache Is winning

According to the City of Albuquerque, with 105 out of 186 of absentee, early and precinct votes counted, conservative republican Richard Berry has been in the lead all night with 41 percent of the vote, while democrat incumbent Mayor Martin Chavez hangs on with 35 percent and democrat Richard Romero trails with 23 percent.

City Council Race: In District 3 Isaac Benton leads Alan Armijo 61 to 38 percent, in District 5 Dan Lewis leads Michael Cadigan 55 to 44 percent and in District 9 Don Harris leads David Barbour 79 to 20 percent.

In addition, voters seem to be in favor of the Transportation Gross Receipts Tax, with 59 percent of citizens in support.

Results continue to roll in, so stay tuned ...


Crowds a Mayor’s Camp Twittle Thumbs

A good crowd, albeit not a very happy one, is waiting for the mayor to arrive at O’Niell’s. Lots of city workers are present, including councilor Ken Sanchez ... not much to report until Marty’s arrival.

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Chavez Holes Up

At the Mayor Martin Chavez headquarters, doors are locked. Certain people are being allowed inside to watch results. It looks pretty grim from what I can see. The mayor appears stressed. Reporters are pacing the O'Neill's parking lot or hovering near their cars. We've been told Chavez is going to show up at O'Neill's at 9 p.m.

I've covered elections for 20 years, and I've never seen a candidate who holes up behind locked doors to watch election results.

When polls close, results are posted on the doors of the polling locations. It looks like Chavez is receiving results location by location. It's possible that he'll know the results before the public.

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And The Emmy Goes To

Editor’s Note: Early results are about to start rolling in, and Steven Robert Allen of Common Cause says his volunteers stationed at the polls saw a rush of voters there at the the end.

Before we descend into vote-count madness, please enjoy these pithy reviews:

Each candidate for Albuquerque Mayor must choose with great care a video to post on his campaign website.

Richard Romero's video, a surveillance recording of a meeting of city officials, looks something like the blair-witch campaign ad. From a jumble of oblique complaints we are meant to intuit that the ghost in City Hall is the incumbent mayor Martin Chavez. But what makes the video clip a truly minimalist work is the complete reticence exercised in support of candidate Richard Romero. There is no mention of him.

The Albuquerque Journal's endorsement video on Chavez's site is much more direct. Excellent music. The mayor has my vote any day to join an elite squad of fighter pilots.

Richard Berry's video speaks more of his party endorsement than anything else. In the span of half a minute, an average TV campaign ad can transmit quite a lot about a candidate using a language of clichéd images and vague, uncommitted claims. For Berry's website video, imagine this, only 10 times longer. Toward the end of the clip it seems like Berry needs to strain to hold his casual pose, one leg up on his desk and the other planted firmly on the ground. Or maybe he just has a bad back from hardworking work in the construction business.

Image from local political site


(Sassy) Campaign Signage

If signs are any indicator of who will win the 2009 race for dominion over Albuquerque, incumbent “Mayor Marty” will win by a landslide. Aside from his girly, pink and purple signs taking residence at a greater portion of homes than those of his competitors, the Marty’s larger signs are plentiful in the city’s many empty dirt lots, vacant building premises and other areas of blight. Meanwhile, finding the more manly Romero and Berry signs is like finding a four-leaf clover.

Poll close in 10 about minutes ... who do you predict will win?!


One More Hour to Vote

So get ye to the polls. Have we linked to our Election Guide enough yet? No? Well, then here it is one more time, just for you.


What Happens in a Runoff?

If a mayoral candidate gets 40 percent of the vote or more tonight, then that person will soon get (or keep) an office in City Hall. But if none of our three major contenders (or write-ins) manage that magic number, we’ll be faced with a runoff.

City Attorney Bob White says the runoff would come on Tuesday, Nov. 24, and would be between the two candidates who garner the most votes in today’s election. In that case, the man with the most votes wins.

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Name Twins

I just tried to use this handy (for other people, I'm sure) webpage the County Clerk has up so I could find my polling location.

It didn't work. I called down there. My call was answered quickly. The cheerful guy on the other end of the line informed me that there are two Marisa D. Demarco's in Albuquerque. The other one is older than me.

This is blowing my mind. I wonder if she ever hears angry criticism from our beloved readership.

Anyway, polls close at 7 p.m. Get on down there.


Polling Update

Steven Robert Allen of Common Cause New Mexico says there have been minor problems reported around the city since we last checked in, but nothing as major as the 12 broken optical scanners. He'd heard from City Clerk Randy Autio that there were only four remaining troublesome tabulators, and the other eight were restored.

The ballots that had been relegated to an emergency bin were fed back into the fixed machines.

If any of those optical scanners remain broken, Common Cause will have people watching the by-hand tabulation that will happen at the end of the day.

Common Cause volunteers will also monitor the closing down of various polling locations. Allen will be at the City Clerk's Office tonight until the count is finished.

"One of the standing questions is about the absentee ballot situation," he says. "How many will come in before this final countdown at 7 p.m.?" Absentee ballots, along with provisional ballots, are counted by hand.

In good news, Allen says he hasn't heard of any problems resulting from this year's photo ID requirement.

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5 Bored Polling Officials

I registered to vote while living at the UNM dorms, so my polling location today was at the Student Residence Center. Little signs of printer paper taped to the wall directed me into a small room where I was greeted warmly, if not desperately. I was the second voter, I was told, in the three-and-a-half hours the poll has been open.

The volunteers were so excited that one offered to wash my car.

My guess is that with little else to pass the time they ran out of things to chat about. They fumbled through the voter charts and mistakenly led me to the automated scanner before I had even completed the ballot. I realized the absurdly slow morning afforded the volunteers almost no chance to get the hang of the voting protocol.

Not that I deserve to be righteous. I'm ashamed to admit that as a young adult this morning was my first time voting in a municipal election. And while the precinct where I voted is just one out of many—one that happens to comprise chiefly on-campus residences—I feel the deserted poll is emblematic of the great extent to which people my age neglect the duty of being a citizen, especially when it comes to city elections.

But it would be my great pleasure if you all turned out and I was obliged to shove my foot in my mouth for ever doubting you (my yoga instructor would be so proud). To find your polling location, visit the Bernalillo County poll finder.

Republicans have little time for windswept moors.


Divide and Conquer

Though Albuquerque’s mayoral race is non-partisan in theory, nobody’s fooled. Martin Chavez and Richard Romero are Democrats, while R.J Berry seems to have been manufactured in some sort of Republican factory that used no publicly financed roads to get there and where no workers or owners benefitted from things like public school or fire departments (he hates taxes, see?).

It was supposed to be Chavez all the way, maybe with some bruising delivered from Romero. But as these two are dividing the progressive and moderate vote, along comes Berry to snap up the conservatives who once went for Chavez. Will Albuquerque, for all of its true-blueness, get a Republican mayor just because the Dems split the vote? Will that lead to cries for a primary system for mayoral elections? Will I save about $25 a year in taxes only to find that the library is only stocking book covers and handwritten summations of books because we cut funding to everythimg?

(Possible example: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. I am a gypsy, maybe. You are a girl. I love you. I love you, no I don’t. Heathcliff!! Are we dead? Hey kids, don’t love each other. I hate love. Catherine!! Do I die? I don’t remember the ending.)

The horror.

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What's D7's Write-In David Green Up To Today?

He spent the morning knocking on doors and handing out business cards with his campaign website and a brief bio. As we speak, he's sending out e-mails, reminding people to vote.

He's put up a webpage with his responses to questions posed to official candidates by the likes of the League of Women Voters and the Albuquerque Journal. Those organizations wouldn't publish his questionnaire, he says, using the logic that if a candidate couldn't get the required signatures to get on the ballot, they weren't serious enough to include.

But Green did get the signatures. He collected more than enough. He just spaced the deadline "after losing sight of events that week," he says. If he had turned everything in on time, he would be one of two newcomers in the District 7 race. As things stand, Michael Cook will be the only candidate on the ballot. Incumbent Sally Mayer dropped out a few weeks ago.

Green already cast his ballot. He's not a Mayor Martin Chavez fan, so his vote went to Richard Romero. "I'm encouraging people to show their opposition to Chavez," he says.

He's going to drop in on the Romero and Berry campaign headquarters later this afternoon, as well as Councilors Michael Cadigan, Isaac Benton and Don Harris. "It's part of my outreach to other people on the job." He also hopes to speak with the councilor in his district, Sally Mayer, today.

He doesn't have anything in particular planned for watching the results roll in this evening. "Being a write-in is an obstacle, but it allows me to take a low profile if I do lose."