Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tragedy In Rio Rancho, Plus: Housing Booms Across State Line And Early Candidate Announcements Start Rolling In  

The metro can't seem to catch a break when it comes to law enforcement. Moments after we wrapped up our blog on the nightmarish woes of APD, a Rio Rancho police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty Monday night. Coming amid the polarized environment over APD the fear is that the fatal shooting could exacerbate an "us vs. them" mentality between law enforcement and the civilians it is charged with protecting. For Rio Rancho, the first fatal police shooting in the city's history is a tragic wake-up call that crime there is no longer simply about catching speeders.

The ABQ area is far from alone in seeing shocking crimes escalate. Witness the outbreak of murders in Chicago and Baltimore over the holiday weekend. Compared to other democratic societies ours has a much greater tolerance for violence. That's no secret and it again prompts what seems like an ancient series of questions as to why.

A blog reader opined here Tuesday that "community" has always been difficult to achieve in these unnatural political conglomerates that have been labeled "New Mexico" and "Albuquerque." But a strong sense of community--not isolation from or denial of our woes--is what we need across the metro as we face these more turbulent and violent times.


New Mexico has seen its share of housing booms but it will be a long, long time before we see another. The latest Federal index underscores that reality. Excluding both the highest priced and lowest priced deals, the stats show housing prices booming in our neighboring states but lagging badly here.

Between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 the study says Colorado led the nation in gains in housing prices, with a 11.2% increase as that state's economy continued to ramp up. In contrast, job short NM languished near the bottom in price gains, picking up a mere 1.5 percent for a ranking of 46th in the USA. Nevada prices leaped 10.1%, Texas jumped 6.5% and Arizona home prices saw a 6% rise during the period.

The worry now for state policy makers is the next national recession. That's right. the national economy has been in recovery mode from the 2008 panic and crash but New Mexico never participated. At best we stopped going down and are now flat-lined, but what happens when the next national downturn occurs--as it always does? The state used to be cushioned by federal dollars, but no so much anymore.

For Las Cruces the next downturn is here. NMSU economist Chris Erickson reports the state's second largest city is officially in recession. And while the latest census stats show Rio Rancho--the state's third largest city--growing at a 2.4% rate, that is a steep decline from the boom days. For ABQ the latest census numbers show the city continues in the no-growth zone, with a 0.1% increase in population for the year ended July 2014.


Sen. Padilla
ABQ Dem State Senator Michael Padilla is getting out of the gate early in his quest for a second four year term next year. He writes to supporters:

I am kicking off my re-election campaign fundraising on Wednesday, May 27, at 5:30 PM, at a fundraiser at Richard Romero and Margie Lockwood's Home (907 Silver SW in Albuquerque). They have graciously offered to host this fundraiser.

Romero is himself a former Dem state senator who rose to the rank of Senate President Pro Tem. Padilla has been a fast-starter, winning the title of majority whip from his Dem colleagues in his first term. So far he has no announced Dem rivals. His district is primarily in the heavy Dem ABQ South Valley area so no R's need apply.

All 42 state senate seats are on the ballot next year as well as all 70 state House seats.

Dem Israel Chavez says he is running for the ABQ NE Heights City Council seat held by Republican Brad Winter. Chavez, a young twenty something, has worked in various political campaigns and says he currently works for Equality New Mexico, a local civil rights non-profit. This is an uphill battle for UNM grad Chavez in the GOP leaning district. Winter is the longest-serving city councilor, having been first elected in 1999. There were indications that he would not seek another term as he is retiring from a long career with APS, but both he and fellow R Councilor Trudy Jones announced recently they are a go for re-election.

Also seeing re-election in the October city election is incumbent Dem Councilor Isaac Benton. SE Dem councilor Rey Garduno will not seek re-election. Democrat Pat Davis has announced a bid for that heavy Dem district seat. The council is currently divided between 5 Dems and 4 R's.

And one more on this Wednesday. From a news release:

Adrián Pedroza is proud to announce his candidacy for Bernalillo County Commission, District 2. The seat is up for election in 2016 as incumbent County Commissioner Art De La Cruz is term limited. Pedroza serves as Executive Director for the Partnership for Community Action, a community-based, non-profit organization that works to build economic sustainability and improve educational opportunities for families throughout Bernalillo County. Pedroza has been actively involved in measures to bring permanent and substantial investments to early childhood education...

Pedroza, 37, has picked up a number of early endorsements including that of Dem BernCo Commissioner Debbie O'Malley.

This is the South Valley commission seat. We expect more candidates to join the fray for the coveted spot on the five member commission. However, no R's need apply. This one is as Dem as it gets.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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