The Journal Editorial Board is endorsing incumbents in three of the four Albuquerque City Council races on the ballot – but not for a lack of talented challengers.
In several of the races, a number of passionate, intelligent and promising candidates have presented themselves to voters. Robert Blanquera Nelson, Zackary Quintero, Ane Romero, Gina Dennis and Maurreen Skowran are the types of people Albuquerque needs on its side, fighting to build a better city.
That said, it’s a crucial time for Albuquerque to have a capable, dedicated and savvy City Council and a balance of progressives with plenty of good ideas and conservatives who will demand an accounting of public dollars. And with strong voices in the Mayor’s Office and the governor’s mansion, it’s imperative councilors have equally strong and independent voices.
District 2 – Isaac Benton
Benton has represented Downtown on the City Council for the past 14 years and earned his reputation as a bulldog who gets things done. A progressive Democrat with a background in architecture, Benton has pointed to workforce housing and the city’s purchase of the Rail Yards as two of his proudest accomplishments.
He is a strong supporter of a centralized homeless shelter as a key step in addressing the problem so apparent in his district. He has taken ribbing for the Portland Loo, which awaits hook up, but pragmatically recognizes a stainless steel bathroom beats the public library, parks and streets.
Benton understands the nuts and bolts of city governance. Just this year he lobbied to ensure millions more from this year’s city general obligation bond project would be set aside for a long-needed drainage project. District 2 residents should keep their fiercely protective advocate who puts their needs first – Councilor Isaac Benton.
District 4 – Brook Bassan
Bassan is a political newcomer, but the endorsement of outgoing Councilor Brad Winter carries much weight. Winter has represented the Northeast Heights since 1999 and has served as a practical, conservative presence.
In Winter’s endorsement, he praised Bassan’s fiscal conservatism – while she changed her voter registration from Democrat to Republican midway through her public financing bid, she has continued her criticism of frivolous spending, noting she grew up working in her family’s businesses.
Bassan is also endorsed by the Albuquerque Police Officers Association and supports a more visible law enforcement presence as well as a centralized homeless shelter that includes treatment options. She emphasizes she’s a listener and fiscal pragmatist who wants the city to be a great place for families and businesses. District 4 voters should put Brook Bassan’s thoughtful voice of budgetary restraint on the council.
District 6 – Pat Davis
Davis stands firm by his progressive credentials – the former police officer hopes to legalize recreational marijuana and has introduced gun-control legislation at a local level. But he has also worked with conservatives on the council to get additional funding for additional police officers with a more visible presence in his district. He believes the city is right to declare soliciting on medians dangerous. He says you “can’t just build stuff” like the still-shelved ART bus system that runs through his Southeast Heights district and expect it to work, wants to revise a needle-exchange program to help clean up city parks, and believes dispatching health care workers, along with the proposed shelter, will better address the city’s homeless issues.
Pat Davis has shown he can collaborate and build consensus. District 6 voters should keep him on the council.
District 8 – Trudy Jones
In the Journal Editorial Board’s estimation, every elected body needs a Trudy Jones. For 12 years, the outspoken councilor has taken pride in representing the far Northeast Heights by being the “voice of fiscal responsibility.”
Jones regularly puts herself in the metaphorical line of fire, including this year when she sponsored a pedestrian safety ordinance quickly targeted by an ACLU lawsuit. She is an eagle-eyed reviewer of legislation and often the councilor to point out inconsistencies and question long-term impacts.
A strong believer in community improvement by way of a built environment, Jones has worked hard to bring beauty and structure to her district through investment in projects like the Holiday Park Community Center, the Bear Canyon Senior Center and the Juan Tabo Public Library.
Trudy Jones has proven time and again that she will go to the mat for her constituents; District 8 voters should re-elect her.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.