Alibi V.28 No.40 • Oct 3-9, 2019 

On Assignment

Tale of the Tape

The Interview and After

Public Domain

It’s been about three years since Weekly Alibi has made a renewed effort to cover the news in a planned and comprehensive way. When it was decided to revitalize the paper’s once-vaunted news section, an effort was made to define the priorities of coverage to be taken on.

The result is that we have an award-winning news section these days, but there’s a story to that.

Local and state politics were at the head of the list and before long, the news section and its reporters began that work in earnest. One of the first collections of news coverage engaged by Weekly Alibi back then was a series of interviews with a large collection of candidates running to be Mayor of the City of Albuquerque.

We talked to everyone from Deanna Archuleta (who dropped out after a few weeks of candidacy) to former County Commissioner Wayne Johnson and confirmed Republican City Councilman Dan Lewis. Of course we talked to the donkeys, too, and eventually settled on one of them, endorsement-wise.

There are two things to note about the previous paragraph. On the printed transcript of Lewis’ interview, we got the candidate’s name wrong and referred to him as “Davis” on more than one occasion. From that, we learned the importance of a true representation of the text of the recording; we knew then and we know now that the act of recording must be as focused and accurate as the process of transcription.

Here’s the second note: After those interviews, we endorsed a candidate who went on to win the election. We felt the interview format gave our reporters and our readers unique and candid insights into the campaign for mayor and its major players.

Fast forward three years and we are busy covering the Albuquerque City Council elections, which are creeping up on us like Halloween does after Labor Day. So far, we’ve talked to a lot of folks and conducted interviews with candidates in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8.

The District Two race has been something. Though Weekly Alibi endorsed the incumbent in the race, Isaac Benton, early on, we also presented feature interviews with some of the other leading candidates.

A statement made by District Two candidate Robert Blanquera Nelson raised the eyebrows and the ire of our current councilor, who sent us a letter to dispute the words used. We listened to the tape and Benton was right. Nelson made claims that Benton was able to dispute and our tape backed that up.

The next interview proved to be even more problematic. Weekly Alibi had an extended conversation with Connie Vigil, a candidate for District 2 City Council. At the beginning of the interview, the narrative stated that Vigil was a Republican.

Of course she wrote us to dispute that, reminding us that she was a nonpartisan candidate in an ostensibly nonpartisan race.

We’ve become convinced that the term “nonpartisan,” when used to describe municipal elections in Burque, is quaint, and only because it was rendered so years ago—by Republicans under the aegis of Jay McCleskey, the pseudo-kingmaker who brought us Susana Martinez, Richard Berry and to a lesser extent, Dan Lewis and Brad Winter, too. These folks created a partisan dynamic in municipal elections that has not been assuaged by the ascent of progressivism.

Given that, Vigil’s entreaty fascinated us. After some research and consideration, though, the following came clear.

When Connie Vigil signed up as a candidate for City Council in April of 2019, she was a registered Republican. Voting records obtained by Weekly Alibi show that Vigil voted in the 2016 state Republican primary and in the subsequent general election. There is no record of Vigil having voted in any recent municipal elections, however, so her vote in the 2016 Republican primary stands out.

More importantly, Vigil changed her voter registration from Republican to Decline to State—not independent, but rather a designation that means exactly what it says—six days after she filed her candidacy papers, during a period of time when municipal candidates were vying for small donations in an effort to secure public financing from the city. Vigil didn’t qualify for public financing and told Weekly Alibi that she is financing her own campaign.

As to whether the candidate is really an elephant or a donkey, we’ll let our readers decide when they go to the polls. But we’re sticking to what we wrote.

While Weekly Alibi was doing research on Vigil’s voting record and voter registration history, the strange—or not so strange if you’re starting to see the way some that of these folks think—case of Brook Bassan, a candidate in City Council District 4, was also encountered.

Back in July, Joe Monahan reported that Bassan let McCleskey pay for her campaign literature. Current conservative bulwark and retiring councilman Brad Winter also supports her efforts.

What’s not so commonly known is Bassan’s voting and registration history. Last week Monahan quoted one of his alligators regarding Bassan’s candidacy. We followed up with some research.

Bassan changed her registration to Republican in late May of 2019 after spending two years as a registered Democrat. In fact, Bassan has changed her registration from Democrat to Republican five times over the past 13 years.

Bassan, like Vigil, also changed her party affiliation during the period of time when candidates were seeking public financing.

A simple follow-up for candidates in both of these cases might begin with the question: Why did you change your party affiliation during the public financing process and how does that play into a system that both candidates have repeatedly reiterated is nonpartisan? That might be followed by a question about shifting Republican identities in the time of the Orange One; you just never know.

Ladies, our tape recorder is handy and ready to record whenever you are.