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Q&As with District 1 City Council candidates

JAVIER BENAVIDEZ

Javier Benavidez

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

The economy. It’s the root cause of crime and addiction. I love this city and will be a champion against poverty with a $15.00 minimum wage, dismantling predatory lending, community reinvestment, early childhood education, and a renewable energy economy.

2. Do you support high-density residential and commercial development in any portion of your district?

There are vast long-vacant lots along Coors Boulevard ripe to become vibrant nodes of quality walkable economic development. I’ve fought hard against leap-frogging sprawl because of its side effects like traffic, and because I see such promise in existing communities.

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

I would emphasize local recruiting of hundreds of more officers trained in civil rights, community policing, and confronting root causes like addiction. Cautionary tale: many police shootings were committed by officers recruited during a chaotic ramp-up in the early 2000s.

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

Public safety, from multiple angles. Also, far too many corporations and the rich game the system. I support shifting the burden from working families to those who can afford to invest more in our people and pay their fair share.

5. 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?

We need all hands on deck to confront our city’s economic struggles. Infrastructure improvements are vital to boosting our economy but they should not be done at the expense of basic services like senior meals and funding for first responders.

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

Tapping into Albuquerqueans deep love and dreams for our city, I plan to help facilitate a movement to achieve community beautification, livability, smart growth, community development, participatory budgeting, traffic calming, and neighborhood empowerment.

7. 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 fully support the initiative and worked to get it on the ballot. It’s unconscionable that tens of thousands of Albuquerque workers have no access to earned sick leave to recover from an illness or help a sick child recover.

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

No.

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

No.

10. 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.

I plead guilty at arraignment to DWI in 2006. It was deeply regrettable, but life-changing — I made a lifetime decision to stop drinking. In my youth I was charged with misdemeanors like cruising/loitering. Since then charged only while participating in civil disobedience.


 

JOHNNY LUEVANO JR.

Johnny F. Luevano Jr.

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

We all agree that our current elected officials have failed miserably on protecting our families from the rampant crime. I will be “Marine Tough” on crime: No more excuses, taking responsibility for the problem, supporting our officers and achieving results.

2. Do you support high-density residential and commercial development in any portion of your district?

I am open to reviewing each project on a case-by-case basis ensuring that we properly address both the upfront infrastructure cost and the impact of the recurring cost on the operational city budget, which is often overlooked.

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

My first day as your city councilor I will move to pass a resolution that the Mayor and City Councilors will achieve 1,200 APD officers within 4 years or we all agree to NOT run for re-election. No more excuses.

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

I generally oppose raising taxes because that typically means the elected officials did not do their job in properly planning and managing the city budget. I will insist that any tax increase be voted upon by the citizens of Albuquerque.

5. 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 am generally supportive of government flexibility and efficiency, but the results are very concerning. The city is quickly building projects, including a Westside baseball field, while the citizens of our community are being ravaged by crime. Out of touch.

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

I will listen to the residents and focus my effort on issues and projects that impact their daily lives. The ART Project is an example where our elected officials did NOT listen and forced an empty bus system upon us.

7. 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?

In the long-run this is not a smart decision because the increased regulations will create an unhealthy economic environment in this city and will eventually stifle the growth of small businesses which are the economic engine of any healthy community.

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

While stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California, the State of California erroneously imposed a personal state tax collection. I provided proof that I was an active-duty military resident of New Mexico and the erroneous collection was immediately reversed.

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

No.

10. 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.

At the age of 7-8 I had a hot wheel shoplifting charge and at the age of 8-10 I was with a group of friends that decided to use a swimming pool at an apartment complex without permission.


 

SANDRA MILLS

Sandra Mills

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

Crime. Ask and listen to the people who live in the district. Carry the message to the council and push for needed resources to curtail criminal activity.

2. Do you support high-density residential and commercial development in any portion of your district?

Definitely. District 1 has the land, the workforce, albeit a bit of training is needed, and the desire to cut the commute across the river for low paying work.

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

We can’t get to the allocated number of 1,000, so discussion of more is irrelevant. A look at specialty forces is needed as well as an understanding of withholding budgeted dollars to achieve the 1,000. Then and only then can we discuss if this is an adequate number or do we need more.

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

We now have the circumstances. Our education system must be improved. The most logical is property taxes.

5. 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?

In short, yes. In long, citizens must be allowed a voice in any major project.

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

I plan to seek and find employers to take a risk in our community. We must train our workforce using methods that work. I plan to develop an agenda and find and provide opportunities for working individuals to improve their skills. This will take a concerted effort on the part of our citizens to provide mentorship and proper training during off working hours. I plan on reaching out to our community to help, aid and assist in whatever way they can.

7. 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?

Small business cannot withstand this kind of pressure. Although it is altruistic, it is not realistic.

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

No.

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

No.

10. 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.


 

KEN SANCHEZ

Ken Sanchez

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

Public safety is top priority. Quality of life begins with feeling safe in our community. If our city is safe, we’ll be able to fully enjoy our wonderfully diverse culture and attract businesses and well-paying jobs to Albuquerque’s West Side.

2. Do you support high-density residential and commercial development in any portion of your district?

I support land use and transportation planning that reduces traffic congestion, encourages transit-oriented development and includes strong community involvement. Activity and employment centers, as well as premium transit corridors, are where high density residential and commercial development should occur.

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

To encourage community-based policing, decrease response times and provide greater presence, the optimum number is 1,200 officers. We must provide incentives to retain officers, such as regionally competitive wages, longevity pay for our most senior officers, and additional PSA (Public Service Aide) positions.

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

Increasing revenue through economic development is preferred; however, there may be issues that justify a tax increase. A tax dedicated to recruit and retain police officers, or a tax on internet sales (which would require legislative action) are two examples.

5. 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?

No. I believe those bonds were necessary to support the city’s capital program and to build projects that will stimulate economic development. I-25 and Paseo and the Regional Sports Complex are great examples. Going forward, the practice should not continue.

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

I will continue to help create new job opportunities, especially on the West Side, to build our economy, decrease our jobs/housing imbalance, and provide critical services. The proposed $15 million medical campus at 118th and I-40 is a great example.

7. 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 paid sick time for all workers, however, those benefits must not do harm to the very businesses that provide the jobs in the first place. If it passes, we must monitor it closely to avoid negative unintended consequences.

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

No.

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

No.

10. 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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