Thursday, June 02, 2016

Wild Three Way BernCo Commission Race Has Them Clamoring In The South Valley; Santolina At The Center, Plus: A Hedged Bet In Lechuga-Tena Contest 

It looks like a jump ball in that wild three way race for the Bernalillo County Commission in the South Valley. Celebrity and ABQ Public Schools board member Steven Michael Quezada is battling it out with Adrián Pedroza and Robert G. Chavez. Insider polling shows this one could end up in anyone's lap, with Quezada and Pedroza the apparent front-runners.

Pedroza, executive director of Partnership for Community Action, an ABQ education and advocacy organization, has tried to make killing the controversial Santolina development proposed for the Westside the cornerstone of his campaign. It has brought him some support but polling shows about half the voters are not even aware of Santolina. But he seems to have made headway with his intense door-to-door campaign.

The pro-Santolina forces dismiss charges that their development would lead to more sprawl. A PAC supportive of the project has spent advertising money on behalf of Quezada and Chavez.

The commission is divided three to two in favor of the Dems so this will be the swing vote on the project. The two R's are expected to be in favor and the outgoing Dem commissioner--Art De La Cruz--has also been supportive. If progressive Dem Pedroza gets in Santolina goes sayonara.

But then with ABQ's population and economy stagnated for so long Santolina may be not be much of a threat or hope, depending on how you view it.

Quezada of Breaking Bad TV fame came with a late endorsement from Bryan Cranston, the star of that show, who says Quezada will "do wonderful things" while in office. Whether those things include pushing forward with Santolina is a question mark. Quezada is hedging on that issue as is Chavez.

Some felt that Quezada should have focused on his celebrity early in the campaign and that he should now be positioning himself less so. But no one is underestimating his name ID which got him on the school board and his affinity for the district which is proud of his acting breakthrough and local activism.

Robert G. Chavez
Robert Chavez, a retired police sergeant, is getting kudos for being well-informed on the issues facing the district and is working hard. However, he is laboring under the shadow of the two better known campaigns.

This Dem primary is to decide who will replace retiring commissioner De La Cruz. It is a powerful post because much of the district is not within the city limits, making the county the sole governing authority. Bernalillo County Commission District 2 covers the southern part of the county.

The D primary winner will face Republican Patricia Paiz this fall but this one has been Dem since your granddad was a boy.

More on the race in this newspaper report.


That county commission contest will be yet another of the races we'll be avidly watching when we convene our traditional Election Night roundtable Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m at KANW 89.1 FM and on kanw.com.

Burly Cain of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation is another of our election night analysts. We'll tap into his in-depth knowledge of the state legislature as we monitor statewide action. Veteran GOP pollster Bruce Donisthorpe, Democratic consultant Sisto Abeyta and former BernCo Commissioner Lenton Malry will all be on hand. It will be another fun night as we anchor our 28th consecutive year of election coverage for public radio. Please join us.


Reader Stepehen Clermont contributes this on the Hillary vs. Bernie battle here:

I don’t know what the final margin is going to be between Hillary and Bernie, but if Hillary wins and few 18-34 year olds end up voting, Hillary can give a shout out to Susana Martinez and the Republicans in the legislature for their failed economic policies that have driven young people out of the state so they can find quality jobs and vote for Bernie elsewhere.


Rep. Lechuga-Tena
Talk about hedging your bet. The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club has done just that when it comes to that hot Dem primary contest between ABQ SE Heights State Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Debbie Sariñana and Amanda Kincaid. Their endorsement:

District 21: Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Debbie Sariñana (double endorsement in three-way race)

Lechuga-Tena was appointed by the BernCo County Commission to fill a vacancy in the seat and is seeking election in her own right for the first time. Republicans on the commission were instrumental in making her a legislator which no doubt Sariñana's forces pointed out to the Sierra Club. But to no avail and that's a big break for the incumbent.

All the action is in the primary in this heavy Dem district. No R's need apply.


The debate rages on this election season over whether the Legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if they want to tap a portion of the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for ten years to provide funding for very early childhood education. We've been supportive The newspaper has not and comes with another editorial saying the state's announcement of a websit--"PullTogether"--to publicize early childhood programs already available is a better idea Allen Sanchez, CEO of CHI St. Joseph's Children, a longtime champion for the amendment rebuts:

. . . The public relations campaign misleads parents and the public into believing that early childhood programs are actually available to stop child abuse and make a big difference in a child’s life. They are not. The harsh reality is there are just not enough spaces. For Fiscal Year 2017, according to the Legislative Finance Committee, state-sponsored home visiting will be available to a total of 4,130 children. Further, the LFC calculates that there are 27,000 births each year and  PullTogether states that home visiting serves children prenatally through 3 years old. This means that, with 82 percent of births being Medicaid qualified, there are approximately 66,420 vulnerable babies who, right now, could benefit from home visiting. Only 6 percent now do.

A reminder: We've consulted with Sanchez on this one so our position is clear.


You got to give credit to Dem Chris Berkheimer for providing a lot of entertainment this political season. His jousting with Rep. Christine Trujillo, who he is challenging in the Tuesday primary has proved plenty of newspaper and blog headlines. But it looks like the party is ending early for him. Berkheimer was put in jail last week for violating a court order regarding a parental custody dispute. Unless there's a lot of Democrats from his district serving time with him and whom he can convince to vote for him, this one is Christine's.

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