By Daniel Montaño, Senior Reporter | Pictures courtesy of nmpolitics.net, joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com, abqjournal.com
Election day is almost upon Albuquerque yet again, and The Chronicle has gathered information on the Mayoral candidates and the 10 general obligation bonds that voters can expect to see on the Oct. 8 ballot.
According to a recent poll, 15 percent of voters do not yet know which candidate they will vote for, which could be problematic because the incoming mayor must receive at least 50 percent of the vote in order to enter into office, according to cabq.gov.
If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two will go head-to-head in a runoff election in November, according cabq.gov.
Richard J. Berry
Party Affiliation: Republican
Elected offices held: District 20 state representative from 2006 – 2009, Albuquerque Mayor 2009 – present
Other: Owned and operated a general contracting company, eagle scout with the Boy Scouts of America, graduated from Anderson School of Management with a degree in Finance and Administration
Current Mayor Richard Berry is seeking a second term in office and stands on the platform that, if re-elected, he will finish the work he has already started in order to “build a city with safer neighborhoods, respon¬sible budgets and more jobs,” he said in an open letter to the citizens of Albuquerque.
Berry cites Albuquerque’s lowest FBI crime rate in 20 years and a balanced city budget that was achieved “without significantly slashing city services or laying-off city workers,” and his social service initiatives such as ‘Albuquerque Come Home,’ through which 200 home¬less people have been provided housing, as just a few of the many achievements in his first four years, he said.
He also said that since he has been in office he has cut the size of local government by almost 200 posi¬tions producing more transparency, reducing fraud and increasing government efficiency, which combined has saved the city more than $14 million dollars, he said.
“There’s a lot left to do. We’ve got the train on the track if you will, and now we need to get the train down the track,” he said.
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Elected offices held: City councilor 1985 – 1989
Other: Former chief public safety officer, work¬ers’ compensation judge, chief deputy district attorney, assistant attorney general, director of the safe city strike force; graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a degree in finance, and from St. Mary’s University School of Law with a Jurist Doctorate, born and raised in Albuquerque.
Pete Dinelli is no stranger to local politics: he first held office in 1985 and has been involved with local gov¬ernment in one capacity or another ever since, he said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal.
During the last mayoral debate, Dinelli said his platform focuses on four major areas: improving public safety, increasing economic development (bring¬ing more jobs to the city), improving early childhood education by supporting coursework in math, science and technologies, and increasing transparency in local government.
Dinelli has proposed a plan called Energize Albuquerque, which will bring twenty-thousand jobs to Albuquerque by investing $1.5 billion dollars in infra¬structure and public service upgrades which will mod¬ernize the city, he said.
Throughout his campaign, Dinelli has been highly critical of how Mayor Berry has handled the Albuquerque Police Department, often highlighting that before Berry took office APD “was the best trained, best funded, best paid, best equipped and best manned department in the city’s history,” he said.
“During a 24 month period under Mayor Berry, Albuquerque had 27 police officer involved shootings with 17 fatalities,” Dinelli said.
If elected, one of the first things Dinelli said he will do is replace the chiefs of APD and the Albuquerque Fire Department — Dinelli has been officially endorsed by Albuquerque’s Firefighter and Police unions, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Paul J. Heh
Party affiliation: Republican
Elected offices held: None
Other: APD Sergeant for 25 years, Hobbs police department for 7 years, only candidate not officially endorsed by a political party on the ballot.
During a recent mayoral debate, Paul J. Heh said he is proud that he is not a career politician, and didn’t hesitate to interrupt his opponents’ answers by calling “bullshit” — his words.
Heh’s campaign is based on the fact that he a self-proclaimed “blue-collar man” who has experience deal¬ing with the problems Albuquerque faces on a street level, he said.
Heh believes that Mayor Berry has been lying about the crime statistics in Albuquerque, and that crime has actually been growing over the past four years because of the “hopeless drug addiction here in Albuquerque,” he said.
Heh believes that many of Albuquerque’s problems, everything from corporations being afraid to move here to low performance in education, stem from unchecked drug use, he said.
If elected, his first order of action will be to estab¬lish an inner-city drug rehabilitation center that will be used as an alternative to incarceration for criminal offenders with substance abuse issues, he said.
“Jail is not always the answer for non-violent offend¬ers. Sentences can often be better served in drug-free rehabilitation and related programs,” he said.
Heh said he is a man of action who is not afraid to do whatever work needs to be done to bring safety and prosperity to his city, and he is motivated to bring accountability back to local government.
“The city should not be owned by the mayor’s office; it is a public office and belongs to the people not the career politicians offering empty promises again and again,” he said.
A general obligation bond is money that Albuquerque borrows and pays back with interest within 13 years using money gained from property taxes; however the bonds on this year’s ballot will not require a property tax increase, according to cabq.gov.
$11,565,000 for Police and Fire departments to repair existing and purchase new vehicles, buildings and land.
$10,429,000 to repair and revitalize community centers, build community projects and general economic development projects.
Parks and recreation:
$12,544,000 to build new and revitalize current parks and the equipment within them such as tennis courts, playgrounds and more.
Energy and water conservation:
$12,853,000 to upgrade public buildings to be more water and energy efficient.
$5,798,000 to buy new books and other media for and otherwise repair and update city libraries.
$39,085,000 to construct new roads, bridges and sidewalks and repair existing ones. Note that the Paseo and I-25 interchange project has already passed, so this bond money will be used elsewhere.
$5,555,000 to improve and maintain public transit.
$2,525,000 to the Workforce Housing Act, which will construct facilities to house low and moderate income families and provide cheap rentals for seniors.
All information sourced from cabq.gov, mayorberry.com, petedinelli.com, heh4abq. com, abqjournal.com, koat.com, kob.com, krqe. com, bizjournals.com, ourcampaigns.com, The New Mexico Attorney General’s office (nmag. com), the New Mexico Foundation For Open Government (nmfog.com), the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office (bernco. gov/clerk) and the press releases contained therein.