Council Watch: Municipal Election Looms

Even-Numbered Council Districts Prepare

Carolyn Carlson
5 min read
Municipal Election Looms
The Albuquerque City Council (Eric Williams Photography)
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While many eyes are on the seemingly sexy top dog national elections on the far 2020 horizon, smart eyes are on the important Burque election happening in November 2019. This election will decide who will take four seats at the Burque city council table.

What’s Up?

Every two years, about half of the Albuquerque City Council’s nine seats are up for reelection. This November 5, Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 are up for grabs. Remaining District seats 1,3,5,7 and 9 were on the 2017 ballot, and will be back in 2021 along with the mayor’s race. While municipal races are generally intended to be nonpartisan that has gone out the door over the last few years as votes tend to be split along partisan lines, sometimes leaving the citizens a bit dumbfounded.

Who’s Up

The City Council is the legislative body of the city and is responsible for all fiduciary duties including all budgets, setting goals and objectives, adoption of all policies and legislation.

Two key longtime Republican districts and two longtime Democrat districts are on this ballot. Depending on how things go—there could be more Democrats or maybe more Republicans; it is up to the voters.

District 2 takes in what is considered the city’s center—Downtown, Old Town, the western part of the University of New Mexico area and the entire valley east of the river. The seat is held by Councilor Isaac Benton, who was elected to the council in Oct. 2005. On May 9 Benton announced his bid for reelection and for public financing. Benton is facing early opposition by five candidates—all six signed up for public financing. Some of Benton’s opposing candidates say his voting record on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project went against his constituents’ voices.

District 4 is in the northern end of the Northeast Heights, with the railroad tracks as a boundary on the west. Councilor Brad Winter was elected to his city council seat in 1999. He has said he is not running for reelection, leaving the longtime republican seat up for grabs. There are five candidates vying for his seat early in the race, all are going for public financing. We will have to see where they stand on issues important to this district. By the way, kudos to Councilor Winter. He is the longest serving city councilor in this city’s history.

District 6 is the bulk of the University of New Mexico area, Nob Hill and the International District. Councilor Pat Davis has held this seat since 2015. He faces one opposing candidate at press time. Both Davis and his competitor have said they will go for publicly financed campaigns. Davis too has come under criticism over his repeated votes to support the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.

District 8 takes in parts of the far Northeast Heights including the Foothills area. Republican Trudy Jones has held this seat since 2007. She is facing one other challenger at this early stage of the game. Jones is not signed up for public financing and can spend as much as she can raise. Although Jones’ district does not take in the failed Central Avenue rapid transit project, she still has received criticism for her tendency to rubber stamp during the Republican reign of Richard Berry.

What’s New?

Local Election Act passed by the 2018 New Mexico Legislature sets some broad reforms into action. One of the changes includes gathering up local elections from some ballot dates in October and some in November to the first Tuesday of November, ending the confusion over different dates for different elections. The municipal election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

All of the candidates signing up have to get 500 signatures on a petition by June 28 to put them on the ballot. And if they want public financing, they must garner 1 percent of the number of voters in a district—respectively between 323 and 433 qualifying $5 contributions for each candidate depending on district—by May 31. Each qualifying public financing candidate will receive between $32,000 and $43,000 depending on the race. Also new in this election is the ability to make qualifying contributions online as well as in person. The Clean Campaign Portal aims to make the city and public financing more accessible. Here is the link:

What’s Next?

The next important deadline is May 31. This date will determine who receives public financing based on who gets enough contributions. If a candidate does not get enough contributions they can continue on as a privately financed candidate
that is if they get enough ballot petition signatures.

Declarations of candidacy are due on Aug. 27 or 70 days before the election and the withdrawal and write-in candidate deadlines are Sept. 3. And one of the most important deadlines of all is Oct. 8—the last day for voter registration or updates; absentee voting starts the same day. Early voting at all early vote locations is set to start on Oct. 19 with the regular go-to-polls day being Nov. 5.

Sprinkled throughout all this are campaign reporting deadlines that let the public know where money is being spent. There will be debates, no doubt, so keep your eyes peeled for these to help you make an informed decision.

Keep Up!

Weekly Alibi, we will be watching and reporting on the upcoming election to keep Alibi readers up to date on the news connected to this important local election. For more information log on to the city clerk’s election site at

Send your comments about the City Council to

The next meeting

Monday May 20, 5pm

Vincent E. Griego Chambers

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Center

1 Civic Plaza

View it on GOV TV 16 or at

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