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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Mayoral Forum Draws A Big Crowd And Makes A Little News, Plus: Higher Ed And 1925; Looks A Lot Like 2017, And: Another Chance To Win Vintage ABQ Tickets; Can You Answer Our Question?  

With the ABQ mayoral election set to round the curve into the summer months, a candidate forum sponsored by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party last week drew the largest crowd to date for such an event--over 250 interested citizens turned out to hear from six of the eight candidates in a session moderated by NM Politics with Joe Monahan and that party officials said had over 1,400 others viewing the action via a live stream.

That high level of interest for one event doesn't necessarily foretell a big increase in voter turnout, but we can safely assume turnout this year will easily surpass the dismal 2013 number which was the lowest for a mayoral election since the 1970's.

Unlike four years ago there is no incumbent this year and there are a lot more candidates. And the issues have never been more compelling--an unchecked crime epidemic, a mostly stagnant economy, stagnant population growth and the fleeing of the professional millennials.

TAX FOR COPS?

Besides the big turnout they attracted to the Pipefitters Hall and on Facebook, the candidates made some other news. That happened when we asked if they would support an increase of a quarter cent in the city's gross receipts tax to fund an expansion of the severely understaffed ABQ police department. Candidates Tim Keller and Brian Colon, both Dems, unhesitatingly answered that they would, with both adding that they would send it to the voters. Colon predicted it would easily pass.

The other member of what we have dubbed the "Big Three" in this mayoral contest, GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis, said he would oppose a public safety tax but would find funding for putting more cops on the street by saving money from other city agencies. Independent hopeful Michelle Garcia Holmes agreed with Lewis, saying that the citizens are already "overtaxed."

Also at the forum were candidates Gus Pedrotty, 23, showing fiery political passion and support for a public safety tax if approved by voters and independent Susana Wheeler Deischel, who was the only candidate to support the controversial Central Avenue ART project. Republican candidates Wayne Johnson and Ricardo Chaves did not attend.

JOHNSON AND JAY?

The back story on BernCo Commissioner and mayoral candidate Wayne Johnson recently blasting fellow R Dan Lewis is that Johnson might be getting guidance from Gov. Martinez's well-known and controversial political adviser Jay McCleskey. At least that was the scuttlebutt at last week's Dem forum. Lewis has been at odds with the Guv's political machine for years so it would not be a surprise. But Johnson ripping Lewis could divide the GOP vote. The division within GOP ranks over Martinez and McCleskey has prompted fears that Johnson--who is running well behind Lewis--could sabotage the R's from keeping the mayor's office. But Johnson's supporters argue he is the true Republican in the race and has the ability to replace Lewis as a "Big Three" candidate. It's about the money now. Will Johnson raise enough to compete? Will he get some kind of outside PAC support with the aide of McCleskey? We'll keep you posted.

THE YEAR WAS 1925

From the time-honored category of "the more things change, the more they stay the same," we turn to this report on the 1925 budget message of Democratic Governor Arthur T. Hannett:

In his message to the legislature on the budget, he says there are too many of these (higher education) schools and he will oppose building appropriations for any of them until the people have had a chance to pass a constitutional amendment to consolidate them as to stop duplications of effort and expense. . . The Governor tells the legislature that these schools were scattered with the "pork barrel" idea by the makers of the Constitution. ..instead of with the idea of efficiency, economy and convenience.

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? And with UNM reducing staffing by literally hundreds of employees on its main campus in the past year (why was that news so late in getting out?) the time for the consolidation of higher ed is still with us all these decades after. Gov. Hannett's plea fell on deaf ears.

New Mexico is changing irrevocably in many ways. But rather than a consolidation and downsizing, we are getting a drip, drip, drip as witnessed by the UNM layoffs and another tuition increase at NMSU. It seems it's as politically difficult in 2017 to right the errors of the portion of our state Constitution dealing with higher education as it was in 1925.

ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN

Michael Wiener
Before we get to today's contest for free tickers to this Friday's Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting, let's recap last week's contest. First, the winner was ABQ businessman Mark Fidel. He correctly guessed that it was ABQ's Michael Wiener who was the only modern day politician to serve on the ABQ City Council, the Bernalillo County Commission and in the state Senate. ABQ attorney David Buchholz and Gerald Levine also got it right, but Fidel, son of the late Grants area state Senator Joe Fidel, was first and he gets the tickets (a $170 value).

One interesting twist: Reader Miguel Navrot guessed that it was Steve Gallegos. Well, Gallegos was indeed elected to the ABQ City Council and the BernCo Commission and he "served" in the state Senate as an appointed sergeant-at-arms. Clever try, Miguel, but serving in the Senate means you are elected to that body. By the way, Wiener, 62, continues to work as a business consultant in ABQ.

Now for today's contest and your chance to win two tickets to the Vintage ABQ Grand tasting. We may have used this one a few years ago, but that's a long time and it's a tough one:

Who was the first New Mexican to serve in all three branches of government--as Governor,  a Supreme Court Justice and state Senator?

Good luck!

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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