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Q&A: Mayoral candidate Gus Pedrotty

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

Crime, but crime is a symptom of economics, health, and opportunity. We’ll address mental health and homelessness to decrease crime. In turn, we’ll create a larger and more invigorated workforce and business climate to bring jobs and opportunity to Albuquerque.

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

Finish the Department of Justice mandate, fully staff police and legal departments, and overhaul emergency service delivery. Through non-officer, service-based response to homelessness and addiction, we save money, reduce strain on officers, and provide better outcomes and services for all residents.

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

With our current emergency services system, 1,300 police officers is optimal. To make this happen I will reinstate the incentivization plans the city unfairly revoked to reduce officer attrition and budget for new officers in each annual budget.

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. A national search will be conducted and the best candidate will be selected as soon as possible. Hiring a special master ensures the police force meets its goals and gives civilian oversight teeth, helping expedite the reform process.

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?

These reforms, policy changes, and training overhauls are essential to increasing policing efficacy and reestablishing community trust. We need to steadfastly continue with the stipulations set forth in the DOJ settlement and finish reforms in compliance with the mandate.

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

I support taxes when they are transparently proposed and voted on to address specific needs within our city. Taxing unnecessary, wasteful, hard-to-process goods that have clear supplemental market items, like polystyrene or single-use grocery bags, are taxes I’m receptive to.

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 continue with and expand that focus to include new, locally owned biotech initiatives. Albuquerque has a unique foothold in the global healthcare industry that we must capitalize on through cooperating with Innovate ABQ, UNM, start-ups, and international business.

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

Biotech and solar are large industries that we will immediately invest in. Making our city energy self-sufficient through an aggressive solar energy plan will drive our local economy in short-run growth, while biotech bolsters our long-run future.

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 would. By integrating revenue bonds with strategic planning, we can accomplish more as a city and stay accountable to voting citizens. An open-access city means informed processes ensuring people decide where their tax dollars go.

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

ART is a gentrification project, rather than a public transit improvement project. It is an unfortunate example of how our city can never again neglect open-access and citizen cooperation, and it is not how I would spend $119 million.

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

I will reduce crime by restructuring emergency services to deliver more effective, efficient, and specialized care, connect new industry to education to create increased access and opportunity, and aggressively tackle green energy to ensure Albuquerque has one less utility bill.

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. I will bring back incentives for teachers to have after-school clubs, as well as cooperate with nonprofits and community groups to bring resources and opportunity directly into the public school system. Such cooperatives also help fill in the academic calendar.

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 support the ordinance. While some changes could be made to clean up the writing, it is an important initiative that provides a higher bottom-line to our community, which means better outcomes for all of us.

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.

With current infrastructure, this tax would disproportionately affect the poor. A quarterly stabilizing market range that self-subsidizes or taxes depending on trends could be more effective for independent economics.

15. What differentiates you from your opponents?

I’m 22. I am not a career politician or beholden to special interests; I’m running for mayor with ideas that put our neighbors’ experience and expertise first. Electing me will be electing a future that requires community growth and empowerment.

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

A real vision for the future. As mayor, I will steer our technologies, arts, sciences, and intersectionality onto an interactive world stage. Protecting, preserving, and celebrating our resources, natural and otherwise, creates a better future for all of us.

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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