With less than two weeks left before Election Day, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association has thrown its support behind state Auditor Tim Keller.
Keller, a Democrat, is one of eight candidates on the mayoral ballot.
“This city is at war with the criminal element, and we are losing,” said police union President Shaun Willoughby. “It’s going to take strong leadership to pull us out of this … . The Albuquerque Police Department is under-resourced, it is overworked and it is losing the battle that we take on every day of fighting crime in this community.”
Willoughby said the union endorsed Keller because of his commitment to bring competitive wages to APD, fund equipment for the department, launch an aggressive recruiting effort, and because of his crime plan.
“It was the fact that the broken window theory is something we believe in as police officers,” he said. “How can we have an impact on major crime if you ignore minor crime?” Willoughby said police officers are tired of fingers being pointed at judges and at the Legislature for the city’s crime problem, which he asserted is largely due to the city’s lack of investment in public safety.
“We believe that (Keller) … will bring the leadership to the Albuquerque Police Department that will help this city get out of the crisis that we’ve gotten ourselves into,” Willoughby said. The police union has about 800 members.
The union announced its endorsement during a news conference at its headquarters late Thursday afternoon.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Keller said. “… We are ready to turn things around in Albuquerque, and we’ve got a plan to do it.”
It’s an important endorsement given that crime has emerged as the top issue this election season. Both the Albuquerque firefighters’ union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18 had previously endorsed Keller.
“When it comes to this campaign, we are trying to bring Albuquerque together, and part of that is walking the walk when it comes to endorsements,” Keller told the Journal.
“I’m proud to say that firefighters and police have come together around one candidate who they believe is the right leader for us. That is something that we’ve also been doing, whether it’s the ABQWest Chamber of Commerce or neighborhood associations or city employees, nurses, construction folks. We are the only candidate right now who is literally bringing the city together around our campaign and I hope that demonstrates what we can do in the future.”
Election Day is Oct. 3. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two will advance to a runoff election in November.
The new mayor takes office Dec. 1.