District 5 voters have a stark choice in the City Council runoff election Nov. 5 between a longtime city and county planner and an Albuquerque attorney who favors a freewheeling environment for business.
Cynthia Borrego, 59, a self-described conservative Democrat, was a planner for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for 28 years before retiring in 2010. She has served on the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority board since 2014.
Robert Aragon, 60, an Albuquerque attorney and a former state representative, was a registered Democrat until 2012, when he switched to the Republican Party. He has served on the New Mexico Board of Finance since 2011.
Aragon led Borrego by a razor-thin margin of only 142 votes of the 9,865 votes cast in the Oct. 3 election. Aragon captured 39 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for Borrego. Catherine Trujillo, 26, a political newcomer, received 23 percent in the three-way contest for the far Northwest district.
Both identify crime and economic development as the top issues facing the city and District 5. Both say the city needs 1,200 police officers but offer differing approaches to addressing crime.
Borrego identifies neighborhood involvement as the key to crime prevention and improving quality of life.
“I think the main difference between my opponent and myself is that I worked at the local level all my career, and I’ve worked locally throughout the city and the county,” Borrego said.
Aragon refers to Borrego as a “city bureaucrat” who is unlikely to bring new ideas to the city. The bureaucracy shares responsibility with the City Council for “an accumulation of rules and regulations” that have stifled the city’s business development, he said.
Aragon said he wants to “reduce the burdensome regulations, red tape and taxes that stifle economic growth.” He also said he would use his influence as a councilor to help form a West Side school district.
“Certainly we need to have rules that make it easier for economic development, for builders,”Aragon said. “What we really have to do is take the handcuffs off people who are generating income.”
The city needs to make better use of tax incentives such as tax increment development districts, or TIDDs, and industrial revenue bonds, IRBs, to spur development on the West Side.
Borrego responds that she has helped plan TIDDs and IRBs during her years as a planner, but that the tools must be used with care to protect taxpayers.
Borrego wants to revive neighborhood crime prevention programs that she used to work with as a redevelopment planner for the city.
“Community programs informed the neighborhoods and involved them in zoning issues” and encouraged “more activism by the neighborhoods,” which led to better crime-fighting tactics, she said.
Programs such as the city’s Office of Neighborhood Coordination, community policing, and the Safe City Strike Force, which took legal action against owners of abandoned properties, have been neglected after years of budget cutting, she said.
Aragon stresses the need for more police officers to make the city safer. The City Council needs to reprioritize the city budget to ensure funds are available to pay police, he said.
“If you look at the budget – $535 million – you prioritize the spending within that budget and provide $18-$20 million needed to reach police staffing goals,” he said.
District 5 City Council candidate profiles
Robert J. Aragon
POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
EDUCATION: Juris Doctor degree, University of New Mexico School of Law, 1984; bachelor of arts, UNM, 1979; West Mesa High School, 1975.
FAMILY: Wife, Peggy Muller-Aragon, three daughters.
POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: New Mexico Board of Finance member, 2011-present; Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents, member, 1991-96; ENMU Board of Regents president, 1991; Bernalillo County Tax Protest Board, member, 1995; New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation Board, member, 1992-94; Albuquerque City Charter Revision Task Force, vice chairman, 1989; New Mexico House Appropriations Committee vice chairman, 1985-87; Joint House and Senate Interim Education Reform Committee, co-chairman, 1986; state representative, 1979-83, 1985-87.
MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Owning and running a law firm for the past 24 years.
MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Having been happily married to my high school sweetheart for 34 years and raising three beautiful daughters with Peggy.
Cynthia D. Borrego
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
EDUCATION: Master of Public Administration, University of New Mexico, 1982; Master of Community and Regional Planning, honors, UNM, 1984; bachelor of science in education, UNM, 1980.
OCCUPATION: Self-employed, Cyba’s and Associates LLC, owner, 2011-present; city of Albuquerque, redevelopment official (planning manager, 2003-10; COA senior planner, planner, associate planner, 1982-2003); state of New Mexico, Taxation and Revenue, 1987-88; state personnel, 1986
FAMILY: Former spouse deceased.
POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control director, District 2 (West Side), current vice chairman, elected 2014; Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments; water board, member, 2017; transportation board, member, 2016; Public Employees Retirement Association board, eight years, chairman twice, 2002-10; city of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County planner/manager, 1982-2010; Rio Grande Credit Union board, 2011-present, second vice chairman; former first vice chairman and secretary/treasurer; University of New Mexico, School of Public Administration Advisory Council, current chairman, 2008-17; New Mexico Supervisors and Professionals Association, 1982-2000, former chairman; American Planning Association, 1982-2010; Richland Hills Architectural Review Committee, member, 2005-present; Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Albuquerque, graduate, 1995; ABQ West Chamber, member, 2012.
MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: A successful career at the city and worked to protect PERA for over 27,000 employees during a recession. Also, worked with people from all walks of life in Albuquerque on successful development projects that have influenced Albuquerque’s unique environment.
MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Obtaining my education. I was lucky to have a mother, father and family who encouraged and supported me. This opportunity helped me to achieve success in my career and life, and inspired me to run for the City Council today.