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Q&A: Mayoral candidate Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

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

Crime and public safety:
a. Complete DOJ agreement, meeting or exceeding terms.
b. Replace police chief.
c. Address issues related to: poverty (systemic); patterns of low educational outcomes (systemic); addiction; non-optimal job prospects (systemic); apathy of public toward sharing responsibilities for keeping neighborhoods safe and crime-free.

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

See #1.

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

a. Data suggests 1,300 sworn officers based upon present population.
b. Recruit, train, and retain.
c. Invite and incentivize the return of retired officers as support staff.
d. Strong, committed, demonstrably high-quality leadership.

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?

a. No.
b. Nationwide search, including local candidates.
c. Proven high-quality candidates, confirmation process including: mayor, APD police association representative, selected APD rank-and-file representatives, City Council, CPOA director, CPD representative.
d. Immediately.
e. No.

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?

City should continue.

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

GRT taxes could be raised only upon approval of voters. Circumstances: infrastructure, transit, proven need following thorough analysis that alternative resources are not available.

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?

Yes, continue. Albuquerque has a solid history and successful technological base. Educational specialties are present. Jobs tend to be clean and high paying. The presence of tech educators and employees creates ancillary business activity.

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

The most important issue that has to get economic development back on track is to radically improve the rate of both property and violent crime. (See Question #1.) Streamline procedures to establishing businesses. Prioritize and maintain state-of-the-art tech infrastructure.

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?

Since the city is not operating at anything close to its bonding capacity, I would support the continued use of long-term general obligation revenue bonds to fund capital improvement projects that meet the need for major maintenance projects.

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

I favor this project, as a result of my six-year involvement with transit modernization. My participation as a citizen advocate put me in direct planning mode to improve transit, benefiting in pragmatic ways the most diverse and underserved segments of the public.

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

a. Prioritize state-of-the-art broadband access for the entire city.
b. Create a 21st century city website to better serve the public.
c. Activate regions around the city making them more pedestrian friendly, safe and multi-modal.

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?

The mayor is uniquely positioned to convene private funding sources and other experts that include educators, parents and consultants to collaborate in problem-solving the unmet needs of students. The results of these collaborations will enhance academic success.

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 is your position on the Healthy Workforce Ordinance?

I support the intention of this ordinance. I have been a low-wage worker routinely not awarded these benefits. However, as it is written now, I have been advised that this proposed referendum will not stand up to legal scrutiny.

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.

I support this measure to increase the gasoline tax.

15. What differentiates you from your opponents?

In 8+ years I personally went to work on projects as diverse as redevelopment of a derelict grocery store and two community parks, and performed community outreach and interface for the creation of an outstanding affordable housing project, etc.

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

As mayor, I will activate an Arts/Entertainment district, including the Railyards, Marble Brewery district, Old Town to the Rio Grande, 4th Street in Barelas, and the Hispanic Cultural Center.

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?

Yes.

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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