(Sidebar)The most visible part of this election is of course the council races in districts 2, 4, and 6. District 8 has already been decided since there was only one person in the district willing to step up to the plate and run, soon-to-be Councilor Trudy Jones. It's not everyday that an unopposed candidate results in a good councilor (look no further than Ms. Jones predecessor) but we think in this case the folks in district 8 got lucky and are getting a good one.
A quick note about this post. You will see party affiliations indicated by a D, R, or M. D is for Democrat, R for Republican, and M is for Martycrat. The Martycrat is an affiliation that you will only find here in Albuquerque. It can be either a Republican (Greg Payne) or a Democrat (Paulette de'Pascal) whose primary allegiance is to the Marty in Chief.
In district 2 we've got the race between incumbent Councilor Debbie O'Malley (D) and Katherine Martinez (M). This is a race where there's a lot more at stake for the Almighty Mayor than for the people of district 2. In our opinion, Councilor O'Malley spends an awful lot of time finding ways to spend tax dollars on programs and things that the city shouldn't be paying for in the first place. On the other hand Ms. Martinez's association with his 11th Floor Highness could result in the Almighty Mayor being able to find ways to spend our tax dollars on programs and things that the city shouldn't be paying for in the first place. We guess it all comes down to who is going to spend your money because the choices in this race almost assure that it's going to be spent. Our prediction is that Ms. O'Malley will retain the seat but by a smaller margin than most people expect. We'll put this at 58% to 42% in O'Malley's favor.
District 4 is the home port of the Paulette de'Pascal(M) pleasure cruise. Well, actually Ms. de'Pascal spent quite a bit of time in other ports (or at least districts) recently but has dropped anchor in district 4... for now. We've found out quite a bit about why she's running and her past problems stemming from her divorces. We also know that she's favored by the mayor whose minions have been involved in her campaign. The Mayor's Chief of Staff Barry Bitzer has been involved with the Honey Bee's pleasure cruise through the campaign waters of this election cycle and Transportation Director Greg Payne is allegedly its captain (read the Sandra Richardson Honey Bee email here).
The current representative from district 4 is Councilor Brad Winter(R). He's the longest serving member of the council and seems to becoming more effective as time passes. No doubt his experiences with Mayor Chavez two years ago reshaped his opinion of the current administration and their willingness to work with others. While we know who put de'Pascal up to running, we can't believe that they couldn't find anyone better and with at least a passing acquaintance with the truth. We see Councilor Winter winning this one going away with 60% of the vote or more.
Our friends over in district 6 have 4 candidates to choose from for a seat being vacated by Congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich. Unfortunately, there really doesn't seem to be a whole lot of philosophical difference between the 4. The candidates Rey Garduno(D), Joanne Griffin(M), Blair Kauffman(D), and Kevin Wilson(R) all espouse similar views about government goodies. Unfortunately, we'd like to see a little more care when spending our money; money that we have no choice but to hand over to people like those who aspire to represent district 6. Our call on this one is that Sticky Fingers Garduno will end up replacing Councilor Heinrich, but our Eye Poll indicated a surprisingly strong showing by Kevin Wilson so we see a slight chance that Griffin and Garduno could split the vote leaving Wilson in the cat bird seat or at least the councilor's chair.
Meanwhile district 9 will tackle the question of whether or not to retain Councilor Harris(R) who has been under fire from a determined group whose main objective is to see the back of him. If successful, it would be the first time a sitting city councilor has been recalled by angry constituents. We believe that the recall will not only get the 1,800 plus votes necessary to for the recall but will also be successful by a point or two margin. If so, you can bet that Councilor Harris will be calling for a recount and perhaps even challenging the initial signatures that were gathered in order to force the recall election in the first place.
The only downside here is that the Almighty Marty would name Harris' replacement if the recall is successful. Our Eyes tell us that should Harris resign the district would be allowed to choose a replacement in a special election. If Councilor Harris is truly concerned about the mayor choosing his replacement, he could always take the choice away from the Almighty Mayor by resigning.
Moving on to the bond issues. We are typically treated to the line that voting in favor of the proposed bonds won't raise our taxes and this election is no exception. The one thing that they don't tell you is that voting against these bonds is a step towards lowering your taxes. This bond package is a mixed bag of things some of which government shouldn't even be involved in.
A prime example is the Affordable Housing Bond that we told you about last week. The bond is required to support the affordable housing ordinance o-06-8 that is supposed to create opportunities for "workforce" affordable housing. Like many types of government assistance, this creates a system of dependency and makes the City of Albuquerque what can only be termed as a Slum Lord. Since these properties must remain "permanently affordable" the "owners" can't benefit from the natural accrual of equity; making them little more than renters. This "Affordable Housing" program only creates the illusion of ownership. In reality the program is more like forcing people to buy on credit from the company store. It's a tremendous disservice to those who it's supposed to help, we'd urge voters to vote against it despite the robo-dial campaign being waged by proponents.
You will notice that your ballot contains 5 propositions. Proposition 1 clears up little inconveniences like being forced to vote on holidays when they fall on first Tuesday of October which is the election day required by the City Charter.
Proposition 2 is designed to prohibit donations to candidates for mayor or councilor by businesses who have contracts with the city. It all sounds good, stopping undue influence by businesses that stand to gain financially from elected officials that they have supported. First of all this thing has a loophole large enough to drive one of Greg Payne's Rapid Ride buses through. Businesses can form PACs (Measure Finance Committees in city lingo) in order to write checks to candidates. What's worse is that it doesn't address other groups like unions who also do business with the city. Look, courts have held that money is speech and the best thing the public can know is who has got their elected official's ear whether it be unions or businesses. This thing is a bad idea but we'll bet it passes.
Proposition 3 gives the city council the ability to create an ordinance that allows them to appoint members to city committee. We're not sure this is a good idea. Right now, we know who to blame if a member is an idiot or a complete dud. If this passes we'll add 9 others to the list of culprits. The council has "advice and consent" authority now, we fail to see the pressing need for the change.
Proposition 4 links the pay of city councilors to that of county commissioners. We agree with most of our readers that the council should be paid more - maybe we'd get some better candidates if we did. But, linking that pay to that of the county commission seems like a cheap way to shift blame for council raises to the county commission. Like the 11 other times pay raises have been proposed, we believe that this one will go down to defeat.
Proposition 5 is the Councilor Protection Act. This is the bill ghost written by the embattled Don Harris shortly after he found out that he was the target of a recall. It ups the signature requirement from 25% to 33% while only allowing a recall for "malfeasance or misfeasance" as determined by a district court judge. Despite this cycle's recall and last year's attempt at recalling Councilor Mayer, it is not necessary to make it harder to recall an elected official. After all, up until today there has never been a successful recall here in Albuquerque and only one other recall effort that managed to get it on a ballot. If there's anything nice about the system that the framers of Albuquerque's Charter created, it's the ability to recall a sitting elected official for any reason including just pissing them off. We're going to hope and predict that this one fails once the chads hit the floor.