The two sitting city councilors who are vying for Albuquerque’s District 2 seat are trying to leverage their experience on the council, take strong positions on the roundabout controversy and court the district’s predominantly Democratic voters.
The district, which runs east from the North Valley through Old Town, Downtown and the Barelas district and also east along the Rio Grande, has a Hispanic population of 51.8 percent and an Anglo population of 39.1 percent, according to 2010 census data.
Democratic voters also outnumber Republican voters by a margin of three to one, according to Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. Although the council race is non-partisan, that ratio could pose a problem for Republican candidate Roxanna Meyers, he said.
Meyers was appointed to the seat last December by Mayor Richard Berry to replace Debbie O’ Malley, who left to join the Bernalillo County Commission. Meyers is running against Isaac Benton, a Democrat, who was forced into the race after city councilors eliminated his district while redrawing district lines.
Benton advocates investing in infrastructure as something he’d like to take on as District 2 city councilor. In a candidate questionnaire, he said Meyers has special interest ties and that she is promoted by the “sprawl development industry.”
Meyers said she hopes to fund an advertising campaign to attract businesses and provide incentives to keep them here. She said she’s not a “career politician” and said District 2 needs good leadership in order capitalize on its assets.
The race is the first time since at least 1974 that the district will have a non-Hispanic city councilor, Sanderoff said.
A political action committee has been formed to back Meyers, and it has some serious cash behind its messaging. Resident Jerry Ginsburg, who’s retired and lives in the Thomas Village neighborhood, donated $40,000 to a political committee named Concerned Citizens of District 2, which mailed out a flier harshly critical of Isaac Benton.
Ginsburg, in a recent interview, said he thinks Meyers is more attuned to his vision of the city, including her opposition to a roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria that prompted a loud and polarized debate. Meyers, after she took office, delayed the project. Benton has asked for more time to evaluate the options.
Benton called Ginsburg’s donation an attempt to “buy a City Council seat.”
Intense criticism of the roundabout could help Meyers’ bid to keep her council seat, Sanderoff said.
Sanderoff, who lives in the district, said he’s seen mailers from both candidates, and it appears they are each trying to play up their progressive credentials.
“I feel like they’re trying to outdo each other to see who is the most progressive,” he said.