Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories the Journal is publishing on the contested races for the Albuquerque City Council.
Two political veterans and a newcomer to city government are vying for an open District 5 City Council seat in far Northwest Albuquerque.
The winner of the Oct. 3 election will succeed Councilor Dan Lewis, who is running for mayor.
Robert Aragon, 60, an Albuquerque attorney, and Cynthia Borrego, 59, a retired city planner, each list qualifications that include decades of experience in public service and government.
Catherine Trujillo, 26, who works for a nonprofit that trains low-income workers for better jobs, said she wants the city to do more to fight crime and provide better job opportunities for its citizens.
Aragon, a former state representative, serves on the state Board of Finance and has served on transition teams for both Republican and Democratic governors. Aragon said he was a registered Democrat until 2012, when he switched to the Republican Party.
Borrego currently serves on the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority Board. A self-described conservative Democrat, Borrego was a planner for the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for 28 years. She has since opened her own business, Cyba’s & Associates LLC, a land development consulting company, and owns a store in Nob Hill.
Trujillo, who is running as an independent, works for nonprofit SER Jobs for Progress Inc., which offers training to get people back into the workforce. She is vice president of the Taylor Ranch Neighborhood Association.
All three list crime as the most important issue facing District 5.
Aragon, who has served on the New Mexico Board of Finance since 2011 and served as a state representative from 1979-1983 and again from 1985-1987, said he has extensive experience in public financing.
“I know budgets,” he said in a recent interview. “I’ve put budgets together for the state.”
The city’s budget needs to prioritize funding for the Albuquerque Police Department that includes funding for 1,200 officers, with raises for senior officers built into the salary matrix.
“We need to get away from this nonsense about stipends” for veteran officers, because officers can’t rely on them from year to year, he said.
Borrego said her perception of a city in decline motivated her to run for the City Council. Borrego’s businesses suffered during the recession, and her store at Central and Monroe took hits from the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project and from thieves and panhandlers, she said.
“In 2010 we seemed to have enough officers on the street,” said Borrego, who retired that year. “The city seemed to be going in a pretty positive direction. This is not the city I worked 28 years to help build.”
She is proposing a five-point crime plan that includes new APD leadership, increasing the force to 1,200 officers, and a greater emphasis on community policing, crime prevention and behavioral health treatments.
Trujillo also said the city’s budget should prioritize law enforcement and called for 1,300 APD officers. She also said the city can do more to train workers for higher-wage jobs to keep college graduates from fleeing to other states.
Trujillo said that after her 2014 graduation from the University of New Mexico, the best job she could find was working in a bagel shop. The city can do more to help train workers for high-wage jobs, she said.
“We haven’t recovered from the recession,” she said. “We are in this huge, huge slump, and we have got to start pushing our way out.”
The city should also restore after-school and summer programs for children to encourage them to stay in school, Borrego said.
“I think cutting back on kids is the worst thing we can do, because that puts a bigger burden on mom and dad,” she said.