Thursday, June 30, 2016

Big Changes May Be Coming To ABQ Campaign Financing; What That Could Mean For Next Mayor's Race 

Self-styled government watchdog, former ABQ city councilor and '13 mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli has analysis on some big changes being proposed for the city's campaign finance laws and what the impact might be on the '17 race for mayor:

Billionaire George Soros giving $107,000 to a super PAC to support a Bernalillo County District Attorney candidate and the same candidate spending $450,000 to win the Democratic primary nomination, signals the arrival of big money interests in ABQ's’s local elections and the ultimate failure of ABQ's municipal public finance laws, especially in the upcoming 2017 ABQ Mayor’s race.

The ABQ city council is proposing changes to the city’s public finance laws, which if passed by voters in November, will increase public financing for qualifying mayoral candidates from $362,000 to $630,000. With so many jobs and millions of dollars in government contracts at stake, I can only imagine how much money will be thrown at the mayor’s race.  If any privately financed candidate raises $1 million or more to run, which is very possible, $640,000 in public financing would not be enough. When Mayor Marty Chavez successfully ran for a third term 11 years ago, he raised $1.2 million to get re-elected. In 2013, Mayor Berry spent $908,000 in 10 months.

The influence of corporate money in elections resulting from the U.S Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling is destroying our democracy. Big money influence is warping the election process. Money spent becomes equated with the final vote, just ask the Democratic candidate for district attorney who lost.  All too often, good, qualified candidates do not run because they cannot raise the money. 

The proposed changes to ABQ's public finance laws are doomed to fail. Unless public financing can legally provide a "dollar for dollar" match to privately raised funds for municipal candidates, thereby providing a real level playing field, failure of public financed campaigns will be the norm and not the rule.

Former Dem BernCo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta is the only candidate who has officially entered the mayoral race. Some other names circulating as possible '17 mayoral contenders are Dem State Auditor Tim Keller, Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez, GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis, former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon, GOP advertising executive Steve McKee and Republican Celina Bussey, cabinet secretary for the Workforce Solutions Department. Mayor Berry has said he will not seek a third term but some observers still think it's possible he could change his mind.


In reporting on the Santa Fe area district attorney's race in which Marco Serna won the Democratic nomination, we said no R's need apply in the heavy Dem area, but the GOP nominee for the seat, Yvonne Chicoine, wants to make her case. Here she is:

Joe, I'd like to introduce myself. I am the Republican running for district attorney in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe County. I can understand why you might think it's a position for which a Republican need not apply . . . in fact none has applied for more than 40 years. I am the first Republican to run since 1976.

I have wondered whether people don't mention my name is out of concern that they will mispronounce it. I pronounce it "Sheh-qwenn." Folks up in Los Alamos often pronounce it "Shih-coine" (not surprising because John Chicoine was a much-loved police officer there for many years). And, when I am in Rio Arriba, I often hear my name pronounced "Chacon." (Also not surprising because of my name's Celtic origins.)

Regardless of where I am, the message of my campaign - "Restoring Respect for the Rule of Law" - is well-received.

Okay, but is it alright if we just call you "Yvonne?"

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