As the balloons go up on Tuesday, Oct. 6, Albuquerque voters will be heading to the polls. Albuquerque municipal elections are ostensibly non-partisan, but party politics have become routine at the Burque council table. Of the nine council seats, it is the even numbered seats turn at the ballot. Four districts are up for grabs with two of those contested races. If you don’t have a candidate in the council race this time around it is still important to head to the polls. On the ballot next week are questions carrying potentially big consequences for our city. Why leave these questions to a small percent of the population, usually organized with party-affiliated agendas? If you are registered, go vote!
District 6 in the Southeast Heights takes in Nob Hill, the International District and Mesa del Sol. Three candidates are vying for the seat vacated by veteran Rey Garduño.
Hess “Hessito” Yntema, 28, is an attorney for the state’s Risk Management Division. He has worked in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office and in the Albuquerque City Attorney’s Office. His father was a fireball of a city councilor who served a couple of non-consecutive terms before leaving the Albuquerque council table for good in 2003. He supports decriminalization of marijuana, but not at the city level, arguing it should first happen on state and federal levels. He does not support the bus rapid transit project along the Central Corridor as proposed, because of long term debt and the possible negative impact to businesses along the corridor. He insists he is not an elephant party robot planted by state and national Republicans driven by ideology.
Patrick Davis is currently the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, a local non-profit. He has roots in Georgia and the Washington D.C. area. Davis did a handful of years as an officer with the University of New Mexico Police Department. His short tenure at UNM PD was not without controversy. He was part of a couple of questionable off-campus raids that led to settled federal lawsuits. A proponent of community policing, he floated an idea that included somehow color coding UNM students to increase campus safety. He is in support of both decriminalization and full legalization of marijuana. He is in support of the bus rapid transit project saying it will bring transportation infrastructure improvements and that the businesses along the route need to be kept in the process. Crime and police issues are among his priorities.
Samuel Kerwin is a UNM student and by far the most energetic of the three candidates in this district. He is thirsty to learn and knows in theory what the job entails. He grew up in his district, and rides the bus just about all the time. He does not support the bus rapid transit along Central until the city fills in the huge gaps in bus service across the city. His priorities include early childhood education and poverty along with real solutions to the city’s homeless cycles.
In District 4, far Northeast Heights, incumbent Brad Winter is being challenged by a newcomer.
Republican Councilor Brad Winter, 63, has served on the City Council for a long time—16 years. At the last Council meeting, Winter voted down council legislation decriminalizing marijuana and its associated paraphernalia. A couple of his top priorities are protecting the city’s small businesses and keeping APD on track with the Department of Justice. He is retired from a long career at Albuquerque Public Schools and is building a retirement home in Florida. He supports the bus rapid transit project along Central if the money comes from federal sources and the small businesses along the planned route are involved in the process. If fellow Republican Yntema wins the District 6 seat then Winter will have served with both father and son. Oh yeah, Winter enjoys competitive pole vaulting.
Israel Chávez works at Equality New Mexico, a local non-profit. He has worked a congressional fellow position in the office of U.S. Congressmen Ben Ray Lujan along with an internship with Juvenile Court Judge William Parnall. He supports the bus rapid transit project as long as those impacted are kept in the planning process. He supports full decriminalization and full legalization of marijuana. He comes across as well educated, well spoken and has hands-on experience with community organizing.
Incumbent Councilor Trudy Jones will continue to represent District 8 which is tucked in the far mid-Heights.
Councilor Isaac Benton will stay on as the popular District 2 councilor. District 2 is the city-center district encompassing Downtown, Old Town, parts of the University of New Mexico and the entire valley east of the river.
In this reporter’s opinion general obligation bond questions should all get the thumbs up vote. The bonds don’t raise taxes, as old bonds are being paid off as new ones are implemented. The bonds maintain city infrastructure, roads, parks, public buildings, libraries, sewers and all the fun museums.
There are two city charter amendments up for a vote—one is to give the city council some control over the hiring and firing of the city’s police chief. This one deserves a thumbs up, as the past few decades of policing in our city show the need for the council to have more say in who wears the top cop badge.
The other charter amendment is to require that only a title and a summary of proposed ballot initiatives be included on the ballot. This should get a thumbs down. Voters need all the information they can get; shorter ballots means less information for voters. Voters want more information, not less.
Tax for Flora, Fauna and Fishing
A big thumbs up should go to a 15-year BioPark gross receipts tax increase of .125% or 13 cents on a $100 purchase. These pennies will provide enough money for our spectacular BioPark and Tingley Beach complex to continue to be a top notch destination and source of pride for generations.
The ballot also seeks the okay from voters to do a bond reallocation of $6.5 million in Metropolitan Redevelopment monies. The money was earmarked for street bonds and the city would like to be able to use the dollars for a wider range of urban projects to help blighted areas. Give this the thumbs up as well because these type of projects help the people and parts of the city that need it the most.