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4 questions for Albuquerque city council candidates

Updated: 10/08/2013 7:13 AM | Created: 09/30/2013 12:08 PM
By: KOB.com staff

With the Albuquerque city election quickly approaching, KOB Eyewitness News 4 asked all candidates for Albuquerque City Council four questions about their plans if they were elected.

1. What is the most pressing issue in your district and if elected, what do you plan to do about it?

Ken Sanchez, District 1:

The most pressing issue we face in Council District One is jobs to housing imbalance. With the West Side continuing to grow and not enough jobs on Albuquerque's West Side, people are having to travel east of the river to commute daily for work. This is creating a traffic nightmare. The Paseo Del Norte and I-25 project will help, but as the West Side grows, by 2030, traveling to downtown Albuquerque will be a two hour drive. We need to create job centers west of the river on Albuquerque's West Side, where people can work and live.

Issac Benton, District 2:

Public safety and public/visitor perception of crime and unsafe conditions. This is particularly important Downtown, where the bar scene and rowdy atmosphere on the street late at night is driving residents and tourists away.  I repeatedly spoke to former Chief Ray Schultz about changing APD tactics, never with a satisfactory response.  I will pursue with whoever is chosen to be the new Chief.  We need to study best practices in other cities, and change the deployment of police officers to bicycle and foot patrols at appropriate hours.  We should use the nuisance abatement ordinance to insist on more responsibility from bar owners for cleanliness and behavior in front of their businesses.  APD also needs to enforce the motorcycle noise violations.  We need to convene a summit of homeless providers and insist on coordination of activity and recognition of the impact of the delivery of their services on the rest of the community. 

Roxanna Meyers, District 2:

Revitalization and economic growth is badly needed in many of my District’s historic neighborhoods—Downtown, Barelas, Martineztown, Old Town to name a few. We have 19 Sector Plans and 17 Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas in my District. The city has spent millions of dollars on these plans yet nothing significant has happened in over 8 years. These plans exist but have never been funded. I selected to put the District’s capital improvement set aside to Metropolitan Redevelopment so we can revitalize many of my areas. As a city councilor, I will also be working with our economic development department to create a single place for small business where they can get their license, get answers to legal questions, find good sources of funding, take free web and marketing classes, etc. As an entrepreneur who has grown my business from 10 to 31 employees, I know how to grow a business. For more of my ideas that would boost the economy, please go to my website abqrox.com.

Ron Garcia, District 3:

Property crime is the most pressing issue.  As I have walked the District, many residents have complained about break-ins.  As Councilor I will advocate better coordination between neighborhoods and APD.  I will also look at how we can assist homeowners install security systems.

Klarissa Pena, District 3:

District 3 is devoid of large retail, other businesses and services.  I plan to implement and continue the grassroots work that has been done in the community for many years that has been centered on this ongoing issue.  As City Councilor I will work to seek resources and identify solutions to make this happen.  Currently I am working with local elected officials to develop a visitor's center on Central atop Nine Mile Hill to encourage tourism and economic development.

Tania Silva, District 3:

As Councilwoman of District 3, its economic growth will be a top priority. This means (1) Investing in our citizens by allocating funds to programs and infrastructure that contribute to the enrichment and enjoyment of our residents, and which promote their personal success and safety; (2) Attract businesses to the District and provide better support to the businesses already there; and (3) Serve as the first ambassador of District 3 to the rest of the City, in order to dispel the negative perception and unfounded stereotypes about our quadrant.

Matt Biggs, District 7:

The council has a huge impact on our schools — and I’ll develop and support early childhood education, after-school programs, mentorships, apprenticeships, and adult education programs. For far too long, this council has failed to prioritize education and our children.

Don Harris, District 9:

Public Safety.  I have sponsored two bills that seek to address the concerns the City has with the number of police officers and the fact we are have some difficulty with retentions and recruitment.  I obtained a Rescue Unit (paramedics) at Fire Station 8 at Tramway and Indian School.  I also negotiated land for a future fire station in Juan Tabo Hills.

Lovie McGree, District 9:

  1. We talked to over 6,000 households in district 9, the majority stated public safety and jobs growth are their greatest concerns.
  2. We need more trained APD Officers on the streets with adequate equipment necessary to protect our citizen and their property.

2. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the City of Albuquerque and if elected, how will you use your position on the Council to address it?

Ken Sanchez, District 1:

The most pressing issues we face in the City of Albuquerque are public safety and economic development. We must work on attracting new companies to Albuquerque and at the same time work with existing business so they can continue to grow and prosper. Sometimes we forget to invest in companies that have been in our community creating jobs for many years. We must work with APS, CNM and the University of New Mexico, so when companies are looking to locate here, we have a qualified work force to fill those jobs. We must restore confidence in Albuquerque Police Department. People should never be afraid to dial 911, when they need a police officer. The Department of Justice is currently investigating the Albuquerque Police Department for civil rights violations. The city must be fully cooperative in trying to resolve any issues that arise from the investigation. If we have a safe community, we will have a prosperous city.

Issac Benton, District 2:

Loss of our heritage and unique sense of place.  Sprawl development and generic big-box commercial tracts reached only by car are robbing our historic and urban areas of both public and private investment. We should reinforce and protect our sense of place and create  walkable corridors and neighborhoods. This can be accomplished with up-to-date land use policy, as is already called for in our Comprehensive Plan and the area in which the Council is the ultimate authority.  Public investment in housing to leverage tens of millions of dollars in outside investment and gross receipts tax revenue from construction of infill housing, as called for in the Workforce Housing Ordinance; and building better, safer urban streets and public space will revitalize the streets near our great neighborhoods. Great urban places encourage small neighborhood-serving businesses as well as tourist and convention trade. They attract outside investment as well,.  A beautiful public sphere also can help attract new business from out of state.  I will continue to advocate for the protection and rejuvenation of our dying tree canopy.

Roxanna Meyers, District 2:

We need a fully staffed, capable, well-trained police force. We need all 1,100 budgeted officers on the streets to combat the crime and traffic issues in District 2. We currently have 930 officers. I will provide funding for competitive salaries and benefits. In addition, I will support retention and recruitment incentives.

Ron Garcia, District 3:

Albuquerque's stagnant economy is the most pressing issue we are facing.  We need to provide training to our youth that will allow them to compete for viable employment. We need to initiate small business opportunities that will allow these companies an environment to prosper and grow.  We need to limit the amount of regulations that hurt small businesses.

Klarissa Pena, District 3:

A stagnant economy.  I will develop strong collaborations with all stakeholders to bring meaningful jobs to city.  Incentives to enhance small businesses.  Increase workforce training programs to provide avenues for youth and adults seeking employment.

Tania Silva, District 3:

A safe city is a prosperous city. Albuquerque has a ratio of 19 officers per 10,000 citizens. Studies suggest that this ratio spreads officers too thin and results in higher crime rates. Our officers are underpaid, undertrained, and overburdened. I will support initiatives to fund an increased number of officers and to educate the public on how to create stronger neighborhood watch programs. Likewise, the civilian oversight commission of the Albuquerque Police Department needs to be revamped to respond more effectively to the needs of our citizens and our Police Department.

Matt Biggs, District 7:

As a native New Mexican, I know how important it is to preserve what makes Albuquerque special. This means planning for growth, making sure neighborhoods are walk-able, stores are nearby, and we have enough water to sustain us.   As your next city councilor, I will find a way for growth to be done right.  As a small business owner, I understand the role for economic development. I'm not anti-business, I am smart growth. That means working with local businesses and neighborhood associations to find the right mix. Albuquerque must continue to create jobs and support local businesses while retaining its quality of life.

Don Harris, District 9:

Economic Development.  I have sponsored legislation providing for Industrial Revenue Bonds (targeted tax breaks) to businesses that are opening or expanding in Albuquerque.  I sponsored legislation that restored funding to an economic development fund, which is a partnership between the City and the University of New Mexico.  I have assembled $3.8 million for redevelopment on East Central to attract businesses and work with property owners to spur development in that corridor.

Lovie McGree, District 9:

  1. Public Safety and jobs
  2. Work with fellow council members to promote growth within APD and restore the faith of the community in our police department.   I will listen to the concerns of the people and do my best to take action on their behalf.
  3. I will fight to keep jobs in Albuquerque and I will fight against outsourcing our jobs.

 

3. What do you see as the City Council’s role in selecting the leadership for the police and fire departments?

Ken Sanchez, District 1:

The chief charter allows for the Mayor to select the Police Chief. The Mayor should be allowed to make the selection on who he wants to serve as Police Chief. However, Public Safety impacts our entire community. As an elected official, we are accountable to the people we serve. The Albuquerque City Council should have a confirmation hearing for the Albuquerque police and fire chief.

Issac Benton, District 2:

As the first tie to our citizens and taxpayers, the Council offices should have a strong role in public safety. We know our districts well. Council District 2 is grossly underserved with Fire Department advanced life support rescue units, containing the only 3 stations without one!  Although the mayor and chief have resisted I will continue to push for equal services for the Valley.   I co-sponsored the bill now before the Council to fund retention and recruitment  bonuses for APD, including paying off college loans for graduates who commit to a term us.

Roxanna Meyers, District 2:

According to the City Charter, Article 5 Section 4 the City Council has no role in selecting the leadership of the police and fire departments. Since the leadership of both the police and fire departments report directly to the Mayor, the Mayor has the responsibility and accountability to hire, manage, and fire any of his/her direct reports. I would advise the Mayor to look to City Councilors to assist in the interview processes as many of us hear what the issues are regarding the police and fire departments on a daily basis. Our feedback would be valuable in the selection process but ultimately because the Mayor has the responsibility to ensure the safety of our city, he/she should have the authority to select the candidate.

Ron Garcia, District 3:

The Council should have a role in the selection process for both the police and fire departments leadership.  I am an advocate of hiring qualified candidates within the ranks.  We have plenty of public safety individuals that understand the issues Albuquerque is facing and are eager to lead the departments in resolving these issues.

Klarissa Pena, District 3:

The selection of the leadership of both the police and fire department needs to be done with an open search process to screen for the best qualified applicants, with a board or commission with citizen and council representation to interview candidates. The top candidates should then be referred to the city council for consideration.

Tania Silva, District 3:

Per our City Charter, that responsibility is granted to the Mayor alone. This can only be amended by the voters. However, as the legislative authority of the City and as the first liaison between the Mayor and his/her constituents, it is the City Council’s role to ensure constituents’ concerns are heard regarding a specific candidate or the selection process. 

Matt Biggs, District 7:

I think the council should have an active role.  The City Council is, by nature, a representative body of nine different districts.  The council represents differing, unique sections of the city and can provide multiple views - the mayor can only provide one.  For this reason the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of the City Council should serve as an active body in making public safety appointments.

Don Harris, District 9:

Our role is informal.  We can amplify or generate public concern if the Council believes the Mayor did not make a good choice, and we can amplify or generate public approval if the Council believes the Mayor made a good choice.  However, under the City Charter, the Mayor gets to make the choice of the Police Chief and Fire Chief as an executive decision.

Lovie McGree, District 9:

Both the Police and Fire Department have reduced their force size under my opponent. The City Council must be committed to growing the departments with integrity and professionalism. The Mayor must have the authority over the Police and Fire Chief to hold accountable as the decisions they are making could be life and death decisions. 

 

4. How will you create jobs in Albuquerque?

Ken Sanchez, District 1:

We must work on securing public and private sector jobs and at the same time work on securing and bringing new jobs to Albuquerque. In this fragile economy it is important we try and leverage technology and promote local innovation. We can incentives companies with IRB, with jobs that pay a livable wage. We need to streamline the process when building permits are issued and put people back to work. The City, County and State need to leverage resources and Capital dollars we voted on. Projects that are on the books need to get started and completed. We need to jump start our economy. A great example of government working together is the Paseo Del Norte and the I-25 project. They City of Albuquerque is investing fifty million dollars the State of New Mexico, thirty million and Bernalillo County, five million. The project will create over 3,000 jobs. We must also work closely with the New Mexico State Legislature to find ways to attract new companies to New Mexico and Albuquerque.

Issac Benton, District 2:

See answer to question 2, which particularly applies  to District 2, but will work for any part of the city with a commercial corridor or small center. We really need an events center Downtown to compliment our Convention Center and turn it around.

Roxanna Meyers, District 2:

In order to provide well-paying jobs to local residents, I will fund incentives to encourage businesses to move their operations to Albuquerque and expand our existing businesses. In addition, I will create a single place and city website where entrepreneurs can get advice and training on the many options available for funding and growing their businesses.

Ron Garcia, District 3:

I cannot create jobs as a government official but I can help create a healthier business environment.  Supporting "start-ups" and small business ventures will go far in achieving this goal.  We have to encourage our youth to stay in Albuquerque and we can do that by giving them the tools they need to succeed.  Better coordination and leadership between APS, UNM and CNM can assure the quality of education it takes to compete in future business and government endeavors that are sustainable.

Klarissa Pena, District 3:

As city councilor I will work to develop a jobs council to help business growth, and create good jobs for our citizens. I will increase training opportunities to strengthen the employability skills of our workforce.  Invest in education, transportation, health care and other key areas to help create jobs today and build a strong economy in the future.   

Tania Silva, District 3:

Albuquerque is open for business and our policies should reflect that! We should encourage higher training of our workforce, and we need to attract businesses that can provide our citizens with better wages, long-lasting jobs, and opportunities for growth. We must also continue to invest in infrastructure and service upgrades to become even more competitive in the marketplace.

Matt Biggs, District 7:

I know how difficult starting a business in this city can be.  I'll work on cutting red tape, encouraging small businesses, and making this a city worth investing in.  If we repair our infrastructure, make the city safer, and encourage infill we will be able to attract larger businesses and keep our professionals here.

Don Harris, District 9:

Please see my response to question 2.  In addition, the City Council must work to make Albuquerque more business friendly, by reducing taxes, fees and red tape.  For instance the Council reduced impact fees (taxes on new construction) and that has increased building activity in Albuquerque.  Further, the City should work with the University and Sandia National Labs to form public/private partnerships to commercialize the technology that we have in Albuquerque.

Lovie McGree, District 9:

During the tenure of my opponent ABQ has lost more jobs than at any time in ABQ history and our credit rating - Bond rating - has been downgraded.  I will have pro-growth policies that encourage growth in the private sector.  Such as supporting the film industry and actively recruiting other industries to come to ABQ.

 


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