Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he hasn’t made a formal decision about running for mayor in two years, but he did tell the Journal he hasn’t ruled out campaigning for higher office.
“When I first took office, they asked me the question what are my political aspirations and this is what I voiced and I’m still the same,” he said. “I said my intentions are to run for sheriff and hopefully get reelected and I’ve done that. After my performance there I said I would look at other options and if people supported me because I did a good job then I would consider higher office. And I still stand by that.”
Gonzales, a Democrat, said he has not formalized any plans or had formal discussions about the issue yet.
“My campaign right now and my focus is keeping people safe,” Gonzales said. “My campaign is to follow through with what I promised the people I would do.”
The question arose after Gonzales hired the former spokesman for Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign for governor in early August.
According to a contract obtained by the Journal, the sheriff’s office has agreed to pay James Hallinan, with Intersection Strategies, up to $24,000 (or $2,000 a month) for almost a year’s work. The contract says Hallinan will provide “transparency measures, unique ongoing training, policy advisement, and communications services to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.”
When reached by phone Friday, Hallinan said he will be helping the office by “strategically pushing as much transparency as we can.”
“So I’m going to be focused on that and helping us communicate as much as we possibly can under the law with the public and the media about what’s going on in the sheriff’s office and making sure that people understand the hard work that office is doing,” he said.
Hallinan said he now represents private companies, governmental agencies, members of the media, and professional athletes and coaches and is shying away from campaign work.
“I don’t do campaigns,” he said. “That’s part of why I started (my business). After doing four campaigns last cycle, I needed a break.”