In what was billed as a “first six months update” speech, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller challenged members of a commercial developers group and the public on Monday to volunteer and come up with initiatives to help his administration’s efforts to cure the ills that beset the city.
Keller said crime, addiction, homelessness and a stagnating economy continue as the city’s biggest challenges. He said the solutions to these problems must include city residents and not government alone. “As I’m sure it’s not lost on anyone in this room, or certainly myself, there’s no way a singular leader or politician can do this on their own,” Keller said during a luncheon at the Albuquerque Marriott before NAIOP, the local commercial real estate association.
“I believe in the upcoming years, we have to look to ourselves for our own solutions,” Keller said. “We have to try and hit the target instead of looking for other silver bullets. To do this, we have to come together as one Albuquerque.”
Keller said he would reach out to the public with specifics, but he did leave members with some ideas.
He encouraged business owners to be tied into the city’s Real Time Crime Center, the central information hub for the Albuquerque Police Department, which monitors, evaluates and predicts criminal activity and sends vital information to police officers before and while they respond to emergencies.
“If you want to make a difference, not only in making your properties and facilities safe, but also with crime-fighting across the city, we have a way to do that,” he said. “It takes some time. There are some technology hookups, but that is a game-changer when it comes to crime in our city. It’s a way you can help and it helps your own investments.”
Keller said the city would also be reaching out soon to establish what he called a “massive volunteer program.”
“This is going to be a way to take folks who want to help the city in any way possible,” he said. “It could be filing paperwork. It could be working at one of our community centers. It could be to help facilitate some of our permitting process. It could be testing out some of the new applications on cellphones that almost nobody is using right now.”
Keller said almost 4,000 volunteers help with city activities. He said he believes that number can double.
He also challenged the public to get involved with the city’s after-school programs. Keller said the administration is taking an inventory of all programs offered by the city as well as nonprofits.
“When we do that, we’re doing a gap analysis to understand where we are missing out,” he said. “Is there a particular age group? Is there a particular geography? That’s where we are going to have to come together to fill that gap.”
He also encouraged more local businesses to submit bids for city services.
“Some of those contracts are readily available,” he said. “There’s the city’s coffee contract. There’s the city’s business card contract. The amazing thing is either people don’t know about them or the procurement process is too long. You name the reason – we’re going to work on all of those reasons and make sure they’re not a barrier anymore.”
Keller said the city would work to bring developers who are committed to Albuquerque and already have invested capital to partner on public-private projects.
“If we can come together as a city, we can reach our full potential,” he said. “It means setting our differences aside or aiming them at the particular government entity that’s causing them.”