Council Watch: Official City Biz

Elections, Meetings, Money And More

Carolyn Carlson
4 min read
(Robert Maestas)
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While sliding into the dog days of summer, some Albuquerque City Councilors announced their intentions for the upcoming Oct. 6 municipal election. The city alternates election years between odd and even numbered districts. This year is the evens’ turn. Downtown District 2 Democrat incumbent Isaac Benton will run unopposed, as will District 8 Republican incumbent Trudy Jones. University area District 6 Democrat Councilor Rey Garduño is not seeking reelection and gave his blessing in the squabble to Democrat Pat Davis, executive director of a nonprofit. Davis will face fellow Democrat Sam Kerwin, a University of New Mexico student, and Republican Hessito Yntema, an attorney. Far Northeast Heights District 4 Republican incumbent Councilor Brad Winter, a retired Albuquerque Public Schools administrator, will face off with Democrat Israel Chavez, who works at a local LGBT advocacy nonprofit. There should be some lively debates among this diverse set of candidates.

When councilors return to city business on Monday, Aug. 3, after the July summer break, some interesting items will be awaiting them. The agenda is not out yet, but these two items are expected:

• Causing a ripple through the business community is a proposal that would mandate city employers to follow new rules such as having employee schedules set at least 21 days in advance, compensation of unscheduled or changed work, and accruing paid sick leave among other employee treatment requirements.

• A proposal to outline how money will be spent and how improvement decisions will be made in the city’s Rio Grande Bosque. This came about after the city bobcatted a wheelchair-friendly trail through a small portion of the Bosque, off Central by the BioPark, without immediate notice to stakeholders such as the Sierra Club. The city has since promised to do better with notification, and members of the disabled community have praised the trail, some saying this is the first time they have been able to enjoy our city’s unique hidden gem.

Other Burque Bits

City coffers will take another hit with a $5 million settlement in the police officer shooting case filed by the family of homeless Sandia foothills camper James Boyd. Boyd, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was shot and killed by Albuquerque police in March 2014 in the city’s foothills. The shooting enraged the local community and made national headlines. Criminal second-degree murder charges are pending against two APD officers involved in the senseless shooting. To avoid any possible conflict of interest, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg appointed local powerhouse attorney Randi McGinn to prosecute the case. A three-day preliminary hearing is set to begin Monday, Aug. 3, before a district judge who will decide if there is probable cause to move forward with any or all of the criminal charges. Over the last few years, the city has paid $30 million stemming from police shootings. Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot 40 people, 29 of those fatal. Understandably, the police department is now under the eyes and thumbs of the US Department of Justice.

It looks like the city got pulled into the Confederate flag debate when concerned groups and citizens called out the city to remove from Old Town a version of the Confederate flag and certain plaques reflecting the state’s rich historical involvement in the Civil War. The early, different edition of the Confederate flag flies in Old Town along with the flags of Spain, Mexico, the United States and the flag of New Mexico, thereby reflecting the governments that have tried to claim Albuquerque as their own in the past. Mayor Richard Berry said he would meet with the opponents to discuss their concerns. During the Civil War, New Mexico was key, as both sides wanted access to the Santa Fe Trail as a route to California’s gold mines. About 4,000 Union and 3,000 Confederate soldiers battled it out, with the Confederates winning many tactical battles. But they returned to Texas, defeated within weeks, tails between their legs after being overwhelmed by the ruthless landscape and its gritty New Mexicans.

Summer Sunday hikes in the city’s various and unique open spaces are still being offered every Sunday through August. The guided tours are a great way to explore and learn about the city’s location in the Rio Grande Valley, from the foothills of the nearby mountains to the urban Bosque. The city’s Parks & Recreation peeps are in charge of the programs that run from 9am to noon Sundays at different open space locations. For more information call 311, or check out the city’s Parks & Recreation page at

The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting is at 5pm on Monday, Aug. 3, in the Council Chambers, which is located in the basement of City Hall. You can also view it on GOV TV Channel 16 or at

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