R.J. Berry is a Republican contender for the mayor's seat and a legislator in the state’s House of Representatives. Here are extras from the interview he did with the Alibi that didn't make it into the paper. (See the original article here.)
City Council/mayor relations
Berry says things have been tough between the two branches of city government since Chavez has been in office. "It hurts all nine Council districts," he says. The mayor makes things personal and is vindictive, which destroys trust and teamwork, according to Berry. That state representative adds that Chavez doesn't work well with the state Legislature, either.
Berry points to his 25 years in business again as proof that he knows how to work on a team. "You have to be collaborative to make it." As a Republican, he's among the minority in the Legislature, which means he needs to know how to join forces with the other side of the aisle to get things done.
Building up the economy is crucial, says Berry. But Albuquerque has to be careful with green technologies and incorporate a broad-based private sector. "We absolutely chase the green jobs, if that's what you want to call them, but we don't put all our eggs in one basket."
The city should seek out other high-paying, sustainable, clean types of industry to move to Albuquerque, "so we have opportunities for all of our citizens, whether you are the Ph.D., the college graduate, or you are the blue-collar worker."
Berry says Albuquerque requires a well-thought-out transit system. But, "I am opposed to a trolley car," he finishes. "I don't believe he hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to put a trolley in place are really the highest and best use of taxpayer dollars." A regional transportation system using the old methods, busses and shuttles, would be better, he says.
Berry points out that he's the only candidate who opposes the quarter-cent transportation tax extension. "That's a $360 million tax over the next 10 years." He would rather see those tax dollars in the pockets of citizens, he adds. "Go eat at a local restaurant. Go shop at a local store. Go Downtown. Put those dollars into the economy."
He likes the idea of an arena but says now is probably not the best time to build one. When it is time, it should go before the voters before the money is spent, Berry says. The concept must include not only an event center but a stand-alone hotel and a Convention Center facelift to work.
Most Burqueños don't feel there's been enough due diligence in looking into an arena's feasibility. "As the mayor, I would put a team together, look at the existing data—there's a lot of it—go through that thoroughly and come to a conclusion." If after all of that he could tell taxpayers it is a good investment, he would put it on a ballot, he says.
Berry's voted against domestic partnership bills in the Legislature. Marriage should be between one man and one woman, he says. But he has no plans to change the benefits for city workers that extend to same-sex partners, he assures.
The city needs to handle recycling better, he says. "We're not getting it done." And, again, the answer is private industry. "Who's the expert? Who's can do the best job at taking our recyclables, creating income from those, and making sure they're not ending up in the landfill?"
They were sold to Albuquerque as making intersections safer, Berry says. "It's been tough getting data on that." Preliminary reports suggested they don't work, he adds. If that's true, he finishes, the city should either make them effective or phase them out without violating the contract.