The City Council will elect its next president in about 10 days, and the choice comes at an interesting time.
The next president will preside over the council through the October municipal election, when the mayor and most council seats are up.
Several councilors identified Dan Lewis as a strong candidate to serve as president. Whoever is elected will run the meetings and serve as a spokesperson of sorts for the entire council.
Lewis, a Republican from the West Side, is in his first term on the council. He’s a conservative who has sided with Mayor Richard Berry on budget matters, impact fees and other issues.
But Lewis isn’t easy to pigeon hole. He also broke with the mayor on a high-profile bill seeking a federal investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.
Lewis joined council Democrats in favor of the resolution, which was later vetoed.
Trudy Jones, meanwhile, is wrapping up her one-year term as president.
The biggest legislative accomplishment during her tenure, Jones said, was the overhaul of Albuquerque’s system of charging impact fees on development.
“I’ve been working on that for 18 months,” she said of the impact-fee ordinance.
Jones also worked to keep the meetings moving along, no easy task when so many public speakers want to talk past the two-minute limit. It also become clear that she’s not a fan of audience applause interrupting council debates.
Jones is a big believer in maintaining “professionalism and decorum” in the chambers, she said.
Know anyone in the market for a couple of old fire stations?
Albuquerque has a fine tradition of turning fire houses into restaurants. Monte Vista and Duran’s (the one on Menaul) come to mind.
In this case, the Fire Department is interested in selling stations No. 2 (301 High St.) and No. 7 (116 47th St.). The city wants to use the proceeds for construction of new stations.
The council hasn’t acted on the proposed sale yet. Councilors have questioned whether the city administration followed the proper procedures required before municipal property can be sold – and whether the stations ought to be re-zoned.
The High Street station, for example, is zoned for use only as a fire station, so a buyer would have to seek a zoning change.
Changing the zoning itself would allow the city some say in how the property is used. On the other hand, some councilors say it’s best to let the buyer decide what zoning to pursue.
In any case, the city’s appraiser valued station No. 2 at $480,000 and No. 7 at $240,000.
Dan McKay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> — This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal