Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
The polls for Albuquerque’s mayoral and city council runoffs have now closed. We will be updating our website with results as soon as we get them.
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With only the single choice of selecting Albuquerque’s next mayor on most ballots, and the additional choice of picking a new city councilor for voters in District 5, it’s not surprising that there were no lines forming to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s runoff election.
At polling locations visited by the Journal Tuesday, there was a constant stream of people moving in and out, but nearly no waiting time to get a ballot and have it fed into a tabulator machine.
“We had four times as many early voters this time as we did in the first (general) mayoral race,” said Ramona Belchak, the presiding poll judge at the Petroglyph Plaza voting site on the West Side. “It’s not over yet. We’re only a couple hours into it and we could still get a rush of voters ….”
The Daskalos Plaza polling site at Menaul east of San Mateo, generally one of the busiest in the city, had a bit more foot traffic, but even here there was no line forming.
“It’s just one question, so it’s in and out,” said presiding judge Ramón Flores.
“We processed about 430 votes by 11:30 a.m. In early voting for the runoff we were about 30 percent ahead of the pace for early voting in the general election,” Flores said. “In the general election, on Election Day, we processed about 2,200 votes, so there’s no telling how many voters we’ll see before the end of the day.”
The office of the City Clerk reports that 57,572 people voted early for the runoff.
The latest in election results are available at ABQJournal.com.
For voters, the big issue in the runoff election, as it was in the general election, was crime. Some voters had other specific concerns, and for some it was a referendum on President Trump.
“Nowadays, social media is how people get their information and form their ideas about politics,” said Holly Nelson, who had just cast her ballot at the Petroglyph Plaza voting site.
Nelson said she voted for Tim Keller for mayor and Cynthia Borrego for District 5 city councilor, in part because of the nasty discourse at the national level, especially Trump’s Tweets, and a desire to keep the tone civil at the local level.
Barbara Herrera said her vote was easy. “I’ve always loved my candidate, Dan Lewis.”
Among her concerns was the way police officers and firefighters were treated under the administration of outgoing Mayor Richard Berry with respect to raises and staffing levels. Her husband, she said, is a retired firefighter. Lewis will do better by them than Keller, she said.
“Besides, Dan Lewis is a Christian, and he donated one of his kidneys to his brother,” she said.
Nurse Angelica Sanchez said she had a conversation with Lewis in which she asked questions about health care and medical insurance. She was unimpressed with his answers. “The bottom line for him is financial, not patient care.” She voted for Keller.
The lack of a line of voters at the Barelas Senior Center raised a red flag for Betty Wyndorf.
“I’m a little worried that it might mean people are not aware of the runoff election. This place was packed for the general election.
Wyndorf said she supported Keller because of his position on police reform, diversity and more “humanitarian concerns,” such as immigration.
“I didn’t like Dan Lewis’ negative advertising,” said attorney and former Metro Court Judge Donavon Roberts. “It was a real turn off.” Lewis, he said, is playing up the crime issue too much. “The solution to crime is not just more police, and Keller has some additional ideas.”
Advertising agency owner Miguel Martinez also found the negative advertising from the Lewis campaign offensive.
“I was a little bit on the fence about who to vote for, and then I started seeing all those negative ads run by Lewis. It seemed petty to me.”
He voted for Keller. Still, Martinez doesn’t disagree that crime is a major issue.
“This city is running rampant with crazy people,” he said. “I went out last June and got a concealed carry permit because I don’t feel safe anymore.”
Further, he thinks Keller’s experience as state auditor will be beneficial for improving economic development. “He understands finances.”
The runoff election is only about crime, said Albuquerque kitchen equipment salesman Steve Stang. “We need to lock up the criminals and hold the judges accountable.” He cast his vote for Lewis at the Daskalos Plaza voting center.
Inadequate police staffing, a crumbling infrastructure and the “damn ART project” are the issues that caused retired Sandia Labs writer Janet Carpenter to vote for Keller. “He said the right things and he’s a Democrat. The way things are in this country because of Trump, I’m only voting Democrat.”
Her husband, Kirk Westfall, a retired Sandia contractor, is a registered Republican, but he shares the same concerns as his wife and also voted for Keller.
“Trump makes me really angry. He ignores the Constitution and he’s taking money away from programs for the poor and giving it to the rich,” he said.
For Gary Dale, “the only issue is: do not develop the West Side,” he said of the proposed Santolina project. “Where are we going to get the water to bathe all of these people?” Keller, he said, has not expressed support for the 21-square mile development.
Crime was also a factor in his vote. “I’ve been here since 1962 and seen the city go from don’t lock your doors and walk anywhere anytime, to now you have to pack a gun.”