Friday, June 05, 2015

ABQ Council Races Starting To Come Into Focus And An International Angle On Santolina City 

ABQ Dem city council contenders Israel Chavez and Pat Davis have both qualified for public financing for their respective races. That means they will get a dollar of campaign money for each registered voter in their districts. For Chavez that's $39,700 and for Davis it's $36,970. Chavez is running against veteran GOP Councilor Brad Winter for the District 4 NE Heights seat. Winter did not seek public financing.

Winter had been indicating to friends that he was not interested in running again. He has been on the council since 1999. However, he changed his mind and not without causing speculation that he could get reelected and then head for the exits. That would mean Republican Mayor Berry would name a replacement.

Davis, head of the progressive group ProgressNowNM, is the only hopeful in the SE District 6 race to to qualify for public financing. He seeks to succeed retiring Dem Councilor Rey Garduno. Consultants say Davis could be joined on the ballot by one or two low-key candidates but he is the clear favorite to take the seat. Marissa Joe, who describes herself as "a Native activist and single mother" is one of those collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. Stephen Nelson is another. The R's have been quiet in the heavy Dem district.

In the District 2 seat, incumbent Dem Councilor Ike Benton has qualified for public financing. He has no announced opponent. In District 8 incumbent Republican Trudy Jones is going the private financing route. She is the only announced candidate, according to the city's web site.

We'll know more at the end of the month when candidates for all four council seats  up for grabs in the October election turn in petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.


ABQ City Councilor Ike Benton made an unsuccessful play to have the city of ABQ have a role in the discussion of the controversial giant Westside development proposal known as Santolina. It's a project that is now drawing international attention. That's because Barclays, the worldwide banking firm based in London, is involved. Here's how:

Why does Barclays want to build a city in the middle of the New Mexico desert?. . . The twist is that this massive community in the centre of New Mexico, just a 10-minute drive from downtown Albuquerque, would exist on land owned and developed by Barclays. Plans for a mega-development here, alongside the historic Route 66 highway, have been in the works since before the financial crisis. But when the recession hit, more than 21 projects run by SunCal, the real-estate company that had bought the land in 2007, went bankrupt. Barclays, which had been a lender to SunCal, foreclosed on this property; then, with two other investors, set up a new entity, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (incorporated in Delaware), to take on the development itself. For Barclays, this is a strategy to make this huge swathe of desert holdings profitable. 

Santolina, in the area of 118th street and Central, requires final approval from the BernCo County Commission. With Dem Commissioner Art De La Cruz siding with the two R's, Santolina appears to have the votes--to the chagrin of outspoken opponents. But does Santolina have a future? Will the ABQ area grow anywhere near the 400,000 people by 2040 that the company predicts? Not if the current 0.1% growth rate continues.

But the way, Santolina means "a plant of the genus Santolina in the daisy family, especially (in gardening) lavender cotton."

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