Candidate Q&A: An Accelerator Named Lewis

Councilor Dan Lewis Weighs In For Mayoral Race

August March
6 min read
Dan Lewis
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As a successful member of Albuquerque’s business community, City Councilor and energy company Executive Vice President Dan Lewis earnestly believes that setting this city’s economic sights toward success and then reaping the market-provided benefits will rouse the sleeping giant known as our town. Business growth and consequently employment opportunities—homegrown as well as from tech firms lured to the area by our performance stats—will raise the standard of living, reduce crime and eventually re-create this city as it was meant to be: prosperous and forward-leaning. Lewis, a Republican, eschews partisan descriptions of what he wants to do as the city’s next mayor, instead pronouncing his agenda as one based in locality and municipal needs. He wants to make the citizens of this town the number one focus of his administration, and given a chance, aims to foment policies that are designed to grow the city, to remove it from the culverts—now crime-filled and dangerous by his reckoning—and transplant its essence, its people, into a welcoming, modern, urban, market-dominated garden of sorts—designed by mutual consent, of course, and dominated by entrepreneurs thriving at the hearts of their communities and neighborhoods.

While the candidate elucidated no concrete plans to come up with the
feria needed to manifest infrastructure-related capital improvement projects, he’s certain about what his business instincts tell him, and you can tell he’s mulling the capital part over extensively. This city does have great market potential, it always has and Lewis recognizes this fact. In that subtle acknowledgment he was clear that this city needs bold plans and aggressive action to bring it back from the brink; to reach its potential and reap the awaiting “cash crop,” Lewis says we need to look to business innovators who have already found a measure of success here in the high desert. The way he tells it, the growth is inevitable if city leaders get organized, get communicative, get committed.

Easy-going, well-spoken on policy and generally earnest in demeanor, Lewis met with
Weekly Alibi on Friday, March 17, to discuss his candidacy. This is some of what he said, the beginning part as it were, as the cameras rolled on our second in a series of interviews with Burque’s mayoral hopefuls. August March conversed with him about business, economic development, ART, the police and being Republican in the age of Trump, in case you want to know.

The whole enchilada, a 42 minute video interview captured by the geniuses at Field and Frame, is available for your perusal.

Weekly Alibi: Dan, for our readers that may be unfamiliar with you, please say a little about yourself. Tell us why you should be the next mayor and what process you went through to come to that decision?

Dan Lewis: Sure. I run a company in Albuquerque. It’s called Desert Fuels; we employ 24 people in the city of Albuquerque. I’ve also started two other companies in the city, companies that are doing well. So I’m an entrepreneur; I’ve led Desert Fuels for six years, it’s one of the fastest growing companies in Albuquerque, one of the largest revenue-generating companies in the state. We’re headquartered here [in Albuquerque]; we’ve created jobs here, in Albuquerque.

My wife Tracy … teaches for APS. My kids both go to the University of New Mexico, they graduated from Cibola High School. I’ve pastored a church here, called SolRio Church, and I’ve been on the City Council for going on eight years now. I was elected in 2009 and represent the northwest part of Albuquerque.

I’ve fought hard, over the years, for the kinds of things that put people first. [Policies] that really care for the people of this city. It’s people first, then neighborhoods and then the businesses that create the jobs in this city that we support.

I’m running for mayor because I believe we can change this city. Our city, right now has been described as dangerous. In fact, we’ve been defined by criminals right now; 5,000 auto thefts in the city last year, half of them were stolen by repeat offenders. We’ve been one continuous crime scene here, lately. But I believe we can change it; we don’t have to accept an unhealthy status quo.

Okay. I wanna follow up. You imply it’s gonna be a small business focus to your mayoral tenure and that you’re gonna emphasize a sort of entrepreneurial spirit to bring back jobs and revive the economy here. Am I close to the mark on that?

Absolutely. There are 18,000 businesses headquartered here in Albuquerque. Eighty percent of those are considered small businesses; small businesses create 80 percent of the jobs in this city. We have to help small businesses be able to thrive. We have to have a city government that’s a platform for them to thrive. Meaning that we want a planning department, we want a city government, to serve small businesses, not the other way around.

How is this job creation mission, which is going to happen through small business … a growing sense of entrepreneurial spirit and ownership—how is that going to change the [cultural] dynamic?

I’m going to accelerate our entrepreneurial ecosystem. I want young people in this city—and some of them are thinking about having a better opportunity in Phoenix, or someplace else and I don’ blame them for that, I’ve thought that way too—to hear me when I say to them that the best opportunities for them, in this country, are going to be right here in Albuquerque. If you choose to leave, you are going to miss out on a city that is on the rise.

… I want to tell businesses that are looking at Albuquerque that this is a safe city to do business in. We’re going to put 1,200 officers on the streets … With the cities that have that kind of [staffing], proactive policing becomes possible.

Something that approaches community policing?

Absolutely. Community policing means there’s an officer there in those neighborhoods [that really need it].

And then trust develops. Wow, that would be a huge change!

That’s right.
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