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Q&A: Mayoral candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes

1. What is the biggest issue facing the city, and how would you address it?

Crime; I will take a multipronged approach to aggressively combat crime in our city by holding criminals and our criminal justice system accountable; collaboration with the DA’s Office, U.S. Attorney and federal partners widens our net to ensure repeat offenders are prosecuted.

2. What would you do to tackle Albuquerque’s crime problem?

By supporting my chief to work with technology and proven practices like the Albuquerque Regional Auto Theft Unit, to attack our metro-wide auto theft problem, and a Felony Case Review Team to ensure all investigated felony cases are complete, ready for prosecution and tracked.

3. What do you believe is the optimum number of officers for APD and what, if anything, would you do reach that number?

1,000 officers. I will evaluate Albuquerque’s crime stats, adding additional officers as needed. I will utilize recruiting pipelines and aggressively recruit professional candidates from universities and the surrounding area in order to run three lateral and academy classes a year.

4. Would you keep Police Chief Gorden Eden if you are elected mayor? If not, how would you go about selecting a new police chief? What would your time frame be? Do you have anyone in mind?

No. Having worked for seven police chiefs, I understand experience and leadership abilities that are required. I will appoint an interim chief and work with my chief’s selection panel to select a chief who will work with our DA, courts and community.

5. APD is currently operating under a U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement that outlines reforms, policy changes and mandatory training that police need to complete over several years. Should the city continue with that settlement agreement or go back to DOJ and the courts and attempt to get out of or modify it? If modify, how so?

I will work to finish the DOJ reform issues with the means within my purview; this effort should be completed. Proper management and having in place an effective policy and procedures review team is key to continually update or implement any future policy.

6. In what circumstances, if any, would you support raising taxes? Which taxes would you be
receptive to increasing?

I do not believe we need to raise taxes, and any tax increase should be presented to the voters. Effective and wise use of our tax dollars and working to grow our tax base will offset the need to raise taxes.

7. The current administration has made technology and entrepreneurial innovation the centerpiece of its economic development efforts. Would you continue that focus or switch gears? Why?

I will support small established businesses in Albuquerque so they can grow and succeed. Making Albuquerque safe will help all business to thrive; crime is costly. I will continue to foster technology based businesses and entrepreneurial startups in Albuquerque as well.

8. What would be your approach to boosting the economy in Albuquerque?

Stop the crime wave sweeping our city; without safety there is no prosperity. We must also bring in an economy booster like a sports arena to serve public events, concerts, arena football and our soccer teams as well as MMA.

9. In recent years, the city has been issuing revenue bonds to pay for major capital projects.
Would you support the continued use of revenue bonds to fund capital projects?

I’m concerned that the continued use of revenue bonds, backed by the city’s gross receipt tax, will damage the city’s revenue for the operating budget. This process allowed $13 million to be spent on ART without a public vote.

10. What’s your take on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project?

I would not have forced such a project on our community without citizen and business owner input. As mayor, I will make it work for our city with my “Free after 5 Program.” I will make it clean, safe and effective.

11. What plans do you have to raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents?

We have lost quality of life due to crime. I will get a handle on crime and effectively work on increasing tourism, promote more community friendly events in each of our districts and make Albuquerque a place to live and retire.

12. Albuquerque’s educational system is viewed by many as being in a crisis situation — its graduation rate is below 70 percent, and far too many students are below grade level in competency. In addition, it’s often cited as being a deterrent for attracting new businesses and employers. As mayor, do you believe there is anything you can do to improve the situation? If so, what would you do?

Yes, together we can improve education in Albuquerque. Students living in families struggling with addictions and criminal behavior are at high risk. Crime affects everyone, and I will work with APS to protect our most vulnerable and maintain effective programs already in place.

13. The Healthy Workforce Ordinance has garnered both praise and criticism. If approved by voters on Oct. 3, the ballot initiative will require any business with a physical presence in Albuquerque to provide paid sick time off to full-time, part-time and temporary workers. Supporters argue that the ordinance would ensure that workers don’t have to choose between their paychecks and caring for themselves or a loved one. Opponents argue that it would hurt businesses because of higher costs and record-keeping requirements. What’s your position on the ordinance?

I do not support the Healthy Workforce Ordinance; it is poorly written and ties the hands of the mayor, City Council and business owners. I question who will enforce the ordinance and believe, as written, the ordinance is unconstitutional.

14. What’s your position on the 2 cent per gallon gasoline tax increase that has been proposed? Under the measure, revenue generated would be used for roadway and other transportation projects. Voter approval would be required to enact the tax.

This tax issue has been removed from placement on the October ballot; however, I am against any tax on gasoline. This type of tax should be decided by the voters.

15. What differentiates you from your opponents?

I am a woman. I am an independent. I am fiercely anti-corruption. I am the only candidate with law enforcement experience. I believe partisan politics has divided our city’ the mayor should serve the people, not the party.

16. Name one issue not mentioned in the questions above that you would plan to tackle as mayor.

I want to see an end to government political corruption, back room deals, pay to play, bid rigging and inflated contracts. Using the Mayor’s Office as a stepping stone to fund your next campaign to higher office will stop with my administration.

17. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

18. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

19. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If yes, explain.

No.

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