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ABQ councilors approve moving city elections

Albuquerque city councilors on Monday unanimously approved a measure to move municipal elections from October to November to comply with a new state election law and approved a proposed public financing city charter amendment bill.

The Local Election Act, which went into effect July 1, requires the city to either move its elections to a consolidated local election in November of odd-numbered years or hold non-consolidated elections in March of even-numbered years.

A consolidated November election date moves runoff elections to December and term starting dates to January.

Municipal elections currently take place in October of odd-number years with runoffs in November and successful candidates taking office in December.

Councilors also approved a proposed public candidate financing city charter amendment that will require voter approval in a special election.

Among the proposals in the amendment is a measure to increase the public financing distribution for mayoral and council races from $1 per voter to $1.75 cents per voter for regular elections and from 33 cents to 60 cents for runoff elections.

The proposal also would increase seed money from $100 per person to $250 per person and the aggregate seed money from 10 percent to 20 percent of distribution, but the distribution would be reduced by the amount of seed money collected.

The proposed amendment also would increase the length of qualifying period and match dates to the petition signature period for mayoral and council races.

Another proposal would increase the length of qualifying period and match dates to the petition signature period for mayoral and council races.

Amending a city charter amendment requires city voter approval. However, councilors voted 7-2 to defer for 60 days scheduling a mail-in special election on the proposed city charter amendment.

Councilors Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter voted in opposition to the deferral.

Councilors initially wanted to team up with Albuquerque Public Schools to consolidate a mail-in special election on Feb. 5., but some councilors were opposed to placing the charter amendment initiative with APS, which is asking for a 4.7 percent property tax increase on its mill levy on that ballot.

Councilors unanimously approved an election code ordinance bill designed to “encourage compliance with election laws and discourage frivolous complaints,” clean up and add definitions to establish expectations for candidates, close campaign finance loopholes and make the campaign finance reporting schedule match the state’s schedule.

The approved ordinance changes the definition of a candidate to include people who raise or spend more than $1,000.

The bill also creates an administrative process for the city to respond to potential election code issues.

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