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Mysterious Phone Poll Feels Out Mayoral Possibilities

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Someone’s getting an early start on the 2013 mayoral campaign.

I heard from a couple of people last week who said they received automated telephone polls the night before.

The questions focused on the respondents’ opinions of Mayor Richard Berry and others. The survey asked about one-on-one matchups between Berry and several potential candidates, including City Councilor Ken Sanchez, former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, former City Councilor Pete Dinelli, state Treasurer James Lewis and state Sens. Tim Keller and Tim Eichenberg, all of whom have been active in Democratic politics.

It isn’t clear that any or all of those people will actually run for mayor, but someone must think they’re possibilities. None of the campaign consultants I talked to acknowledged doing the poll or knowing for sure who did.

A Berry spokeswoman said it wasn’t the mayor’s poll.

Berry, a Republican, is headed into the last year of his first term. He won about 44 percent of the vote in 2009, when he defeated Democrats Martin Chávez and Richard Romero.

The mayor and six of nine City Council seats will be on the ballot in October.

A change in the requirement for runoff elections could shake up the mayor’s race.

Union groups and others circulated petitions this fall to change the City Charter to require runoff elections if no candidate gets 50 percent in the first round of voting. The requirement in place now is 40 percent.

Albuquerque’s municipal elections are nonpartisan, meaning that party affiliation doesn’t appear on the ballot. There are no primary elections to winnow the field, either.

As for the petition, if the city clerk certifies that enough valid signatures were gathered, the city will have to hold a special election within 90 days on whether to change the runoff requirement.

If voters approved, it would be in place in time for the regular city election later in the year.

The automated poll in the field this week also asked respondents whether they favored the 50 percent proposal.

It looks like the Bernalillo County Commission will appoint an assessor next month to replace Karen Montoya, who is leaving the job to join the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

The appointment was expected to be on this week’s agenda, but commissioners said they wanted more time to review the 17 applicants.

Commissioner Michael Wiener, whose term ends Dec. 31, suggested holding a special meeting to make the appointment next week, but no other commissioner expressed support for the idea.

The city of Albuquerque revised its policies on take-home vehicles after internal auditors questioned whether department directors were doing periodic reviews of whether the use of the vehicles was still justified for each employee who had one.

Auditors said that, in some cases, the city hadn’t recognized the personal use of a city vehicle as a taxable fringe benefit. Take-home vehicles are a fringe benefit if they’re used to commute between work and home, auditors said.

The city said it made changes to address auditors’ concerns.
— This article appeared on page A4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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