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Q&A: Mayoral candidate Tim Keller

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

Albuquerque is a strong, special place with immense challenges. We have the highest crime rates in a decade and fewer job opportunities. Few are getting ahead, many left behind. Let’s meet these challenges head-on and build a safe, inclusive, innovative city.

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

Our plan includes instituting real community policing; embracing and completing DOJ efforts; taking better care of our front-line officers by no longer waiting for others, pointing fingers, or making excuses for officer shortage; and addressing addiction, mental health and homelessness.

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

To institute real community policing, reduce 911 wait times, and curb property crime, we need approximately 400 more well-qualified officers. Short-term I’ll create multi-agency task force to saturate high-crime areas while recruiting vetted transfers who will attend a condensed academy.

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. Any Mayor coming in with these results should bring in a new team. I’ll bring interim outside leadership, with past local experience, to stabilize command and enable national search. I’ll take responsibility for evaluation & accountability of all city executives.

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?

Must restore trust, change culture & finish DOJ efforts. Time to take back department, put millions spent on legal fees instead towards hiring more qualified officers. Also restructure internal investigations and all oversight functions to provide greater effectiveness, fairness & transparency.

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

Public safety is priority #1 and reforms must be backed up with meaningful funding. All options on table. Before any taxes, I’ll work with Council to better prioritize city spending, create efficiencies & explore ways of doing more with existing funds.

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?

It’s important to build on what the city has done for tech and entrepreneurs, additionally let’s get past playing favorites and unleash money, incentives, and programs used for out-of-state corporations to work for local businesses, nonprofits, artists, musicians, AND entrepreneurs.

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

Leverage all we can to create local jobs, focus city buying power on local businesses; partner with universities and existing companies to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and local business expansion so we can capture millions of tax dollars currently sent out-of-town.

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?

Let’s evaluate all bonding on a project-by-project basis with an eye toward long-term return on investment. If projects deliver benefit to core concerns, can be adequately repaid, and associated operating funds are available, let’s continue. If not, let’s hold back.

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

Rather than dwell on negatives, make the best of it. Make it work for riders and businesses by fixing left turn issues and dedicated lane problems. Make a citywide Rapid-Ride upgrade connecting Cottonwood to Coronado, CNM, Sunport, and regional transit.

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

We can champion creativity and culture with support for makers, artists, performers who light up our city by investing in community hubs—Westside gathering spaces, downtown arts center, expanded use of Rail Yards—to support year-round collaborative projects and installations.

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?

Our next Mayor must stand up for kids and invest in education. I’ll step up for kids and parents by expanding access to community-oriented services at public schools, ensure access to early childhood education and increase after-school and summer programs.

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?

As dad to young children and husband of full-time working mom, we’re keenly aware of the importance of this to businesses and caregivers. I support paid sick leave and believe I can bring people together to fix any unintended consequences.

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 always support voters deciding at the ballot box. If passed, a thorough series of public meetings to prioritize the most immediate needs including strengthening ADA access to public facilities, bike lanes, and other infrastructure projects. No money to ART.

15. What differentiates you from your opponents?

Executive experience matters. I’m the only candidate who’s been publicly accountable for running a government agency. I have a strong business management background, and am the ONLY publicly financed candidate qualified by 6,000 voters demonstrating depth and breadth of support.

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

We can aim higher with innovative ideas. Let’s be national leaders and create local jobs by committing to 100% renewable energy. Let’s boost recycling, water conservation, open space enhancement, Bosque restoration to reduce our carbon footprint and link planning to resilience.

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.

When I was in high school, I was charged with a petty misdemeanor for being at a party with underage drinking. The charge was promptly dropped.

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