With the clock about to run out on the Albuquerque city election, there’s been a flurry of activity in the mayor’s race and from supporters and opponents of the proposed sick leave law.
Here are some of the highlights.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson has launched an attack ad targeting fellow Republican Dan Lewis, a city councilor.
“They talk like John Wayne but vote like Barney Fife,” the voice-over begins, as images of Lewis, state Auditor Tim Keller and attorney Brian Colón pop up on the screen. “Like Dan Lewis – voted to spend $13 million on the ART project instead of hiring more police, and Lewis didn’t even bother to show up for the sanctuary city vote.”
Johnson then pops up on the screen, “I’ll stop the criminal justice revolving door, and I’ll hold judges accountable and I’ll end sanctuary city policies,” he says.
Johnson throughout the campaign has accused Lewis of voting for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project before voting against it.
“My opponent Wayne Johnson doesn’t seem to know who the real enemy is in ABQ – the criminals, thugs, and thieves who terrorize our neighborhoods and our families,” Lewis posted on Facebook this week. “It’s sad to see that he would rather spread lies about my record than talk about the serious threats facing our city. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for him. I know voters are smart enough to see through these petty political games.”
Keller and Colón, both Democrats, and Lewis have been leading in the polls.
D.C. group: A new political action committee dubbed ABQ Working Families, meanwhile, has sent out a mailer attacking Colón. More than half of the group’s funding comes from Washington, D.C.-based Civic Participation Action Fund, which is supporting Keller’s mayoral bid.
“We have a major crime problem, and we need changes at APD,” the flier says. “But we cannot trust Brian Colón to bring the change we need. He’s too well-connected to APD insiders.”
The mailer goes on to allege that Colón’s law firm defended Ray Schultz, a former police chief who was the target of a state investigation into a sole-source, $2 million contract the city awarded Taser International to equip city police officers with on-body lapel cams.
“Brian Colón can’t change APD – his law firm protected those at the top,” the mailer says.
Colón, a former Democratic Party chairman, and an attorney with Robles, Rael & Anaya, blasted the fliers.
“These dishonest, last-minute attacks confirm what everyone knows: We have the momentum going into Election Day,” he told the Journal in a statement. “We are running a positive, forward-looking campaign to find common ground and smarter solutions. Public safety is priority number one. I’m not sure what these attacks on Ray Schultz have to do with me. He has never been a client of mine.”
It’s not the first time Colón has defended his association with the Robles law firm.
During a police union event in Albuquerque, he addressed the issue.
“That’s the law firm that stands beside officers when they’re in their deepest and darkest days,” Colón told officers. “When they’ve been involved in use-of-force cases, our law firm has stood tall by them, and I’ve got competitors in this field that like to use that against me and say that my firm has stood with law enforcement when they’ve shot innocent Albuquerque citizens. I wear this as a badge of honor. I was proud to stand with APD the last decade; I’ll be proud to stand with APD as mayor of our beautiful city of Albuquerque.”
NRA backs Lewis: The National Rifle Association has endorsed Lewis for mayor.
In a letter, the organization said its decision is based on Lewis’ “strong leadership in the local fight to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and your proven record of support for the Second Amendment during your tenure on the Albuquerque City Council.” The group said Lewis’ record “includes votes against anti-gun city resolutions urging the Legislature to pass restrictions on private firearm sales at gun shows and to repeal the firearms preemption clause in the state constitution.”
Pro-sick leave: The Democratic Party of New Mexico this week endorsed the Healthy Workforce Ordinance.
“Democrats support policies that keep our families healthy and employed,” said party Chairman Richard Ellenberg, in a news release. “The community has an opportunity to ensure Albuquerque workers are treated fairly, and we are encouraging voters to vote ‘yes’ on the paid leave ballot initiative. Keeping employees and families healthy makes good business sense – healthy families mean a healthy workforce.”
If approved by voters, the ordinance would require employers to offer employees paid sick time off. It would apply to full-time, part-time and temporary workers at any business with a physical presence in Albuquerque, and it would allow workers to take paid sick time to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault.
Domestic violence and rape survivors held a news conference earlier this week to discuss how important the ordinance is to helping survivors and vulnerable families escape violent situations.
“We believe it is necessary that victims of violent crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence be able to call in sick for work without having to explain to their employer what happened to them,” said Liza Wolff from Casa Fortaleza, a group that supports survivors of sexual violence.
Anti-sick leave: Opponents of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance, meanwhile, say that the proposed initiative would hurt workers and businesses, and they have also ramped up their campaigns.
Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico has mailed out fliers likening the Healthy Workforce Ordinance to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“A truly healthy workforce is an employed workforce,” AFP-NM state Director Burly Cain said in a news release. “This ordinance would hurt small businesses, putting thousands of jobs at risk. It comes with a $100 million price tag for small business but creates loopholes for unions and the well-connected. On Oct. 3, Albuquerque voters should not fall for this wolf in sheep’s clothing, but should reject this attempt to rig the system.”
The Albuquerque Coalition for a Healthy Economy has also been distributing fliers.
“The proposed ordinance will result in fewer jobs and is going to be especially hard on small businesses that are struggling to make ends meet,” the fliers say. “… We should take the time to design a sick leave policy that will work for all of Albuquerque.”
Election day: Election Day is Tuesday.
The Healthy Workforce Ordinance requires a simple majority for approval. Eight mayoral candidates are on the ballot, although Ricardo Chaves dropped out of the race Thursday. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff on Nov. 14. Five City Council seats are also up for grabs on Tuesday.
Martin Salazar: email@example.com