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District 5 runoff features 2 government veterans

District 5 voters have the choice of two City Council candidates, each with years of public service and government experience, who will face off in Albuquerque’s Nov. 14 runoff election.

Robert Aragon, left, is headed for a runoff in the far northwest district with Cynthia Borrego, right.

Robert Aragon led Cynthia Borrego by only 142 votes of the 9,865 votes cast in Tuesday’s city election, according to unofficial results, with Aragon capturing 39 percent to Borrego’s 38 percent.

Catherine Trujillo, 26, a political newcomer and 2014 graduate of the University of New Mexico, received 23 percent in the three-way contest to represent the far northwest district.

Aragon, 60, an Albuquerque attorney, a former state representative and a member of the state Board of Finance, offers himself as a friend of business who wants to dismantle regulations he says stifle business development.

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Borrego, 59, who worked as a planner for both the city and Bernalillo County for 28 years, said she wants to revive neighborhood-based crime prevention programs and community policing gutted by recession-era budget cutting.

Aragon said Albuquerque needs to use tax incentives, such as tax increment development districts, or TIDDs, and industrial revenue bonds, IRBs, to bring employers to the West Side.

“These are innovative ideas that we just aren’t utilizing,” he said. “Let’s consider tax-free zones. Let’s consider utilizing TIDDs at a local level, at a smaller level.”

He identified Houston, with its lack of zoning laws, as a model of a business-friendly city that Albuquerque should emulate.

“People don’t think about Albuquerque because of all the rules and regulations that we have in place,” Aragon said.

Borrego responded that in her years as a planner, she helped create tax incentive programs to attract businesses, including an IRB issued on behalf of the Intel plant in Rio Rancho.

“I don’t disagree with him on those tools, but we have to be careful and analytical about how they are implemented,” she said.

The race has had its share of negative campaigning. Aragon has accused Borrego of proposing a gross receipts tax increase to pay for public safety. Borrego denies that she has ever discussed raising taxes.

The winner of the runoff will succeed Dan Lewis, who is in the mayoral runoff against Tim Keller.

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