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Jones, Davis prevail in City Council races

Albuquerque City Councilor Trudy Jones hugs a watch party attendant after she sees her polling numbers, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Anthony Jackson for the Albuquerque Journal)

Pat Davis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque City Council will not look much different in 2020 than it does today — but it will be another month before its full composition is determined.

Incumbents Pat Davis, one of the council’s most liberal members, and Trudy Jones, a Republican with a record of challenging Democratic Mayor Tim Keller, each won reelection Tuesday.

But the other two seats up for vote this year look headed for a runoff.

Incumbent Isaac Benton led the field in a crowded District 2 race, securing 42% of the votes in the six-way race, according to unofficial results. But he did not meet the 50% threshold required by the City Charter, meaning he will proceed to a runoff with his nearest challenger. That appears to be Zack Quintero, a 28-year-old legal analyst, who earned 20% of the vote.

Tuesday’s unofficial results revealed no winner in the District 4 race either.

Brook Bassan, a self-described “household CEO,” had 49% of the vote in the three-way race to replace the district’s retiring representative Brad Winter. If that number stands, she will face a runoff with Ane C. Romero, deputy legislative director for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Romero had 42% of the vote at press time.

The City Council has nine seats, but only four were decided this year. The rest will be on the ballot in 2021.

Davis, who defeated fellow Democrat Gina Naomi Dennis to win a second term in District 6, said he was energized by the results in his and other races.

“Our city looks different,” said the 41-year-old councilor, who represents Nob Hill, the International District and other parts of Southeast Albuquerque. “It looks more progressive; it looks bluer. As the guy who has been pushing the more progressive agenda on the Council, I feel good about where we’re going.”

But voters in District 8, which includes part of the Northeast Heights, stuck with a three-term Republican in Jones. She defeated first-time candidate Maurreen Skowran, a Democrat and data analyst.

Jones, a retired commercial real estate broker, said she sees herself as an outspoken voice of “fiscal responsibility” on the council and that constituents on the campaign trail told her to keep doing what she has been doing.

“I think we’re all pretty tired of the display of wasted money that we’ve seen in the last few years,” she said. “It’s just time that we get a grip on it. We can’t keep raising taxes and charging more fees when what we need to do is manage and spend the money wisely.”

Though races are not official until canvassing is completed, Tuesday night’s vote tallies indicate District 2 and 4 voters will have to vote again in a Dec. 10 runoff.

Romero, 38, said she was excited about the possibility of a runoff and is looking forward to the next step in her campaign. Romero, who has spent her career working on behavioral health policy, said she thinks her message resonated with constituents, and that she is grateful to voters for their trust and support.

“Just to know that we have done this well in an area that traditionally, maybe historically has never seen a candidate like me before, I think that it’s exciting,” she said.

Winter, a Republican, has represented the Northeast Heights-based district for the past 20 years.

Bassan, a Republican endorsed by Winter, did not respond to Journal messages Tuesday night.

The runoff will also determine who represents Downtown, Old Town and parts of the North Valley.

That job currently belongs to Benton, an architect first elected to City Council in 2005.

But Benton — who ran unopposed four years ago — had five District 2 challengers this time. It was the largest field in an Albuquerque City Council race since 2003.

“When you have five opponents, it’s hard to get to 50%,” Benton said, noting that he was pleased to get double the votes of his nearest challenger. He said he’s optimistic going into the runoff.

Quintero said he is confident he can pick up some of the votes that went to the other four candidates, two of whom — Robert Blanquera Nelson and Connie Vigil — each earned more than 10% of the total vote.

“I feel excited and motivated more than ever to win. I think the district spoke very clearly that they’re ready for change; they just spoke about it in many ways,” he said.

Tuesday’s election was the first of its kind, consolidating races, bonds, and ballot questions from 11 different government entities.

Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover administered the election and her office said unofficial counts showed 23% of registered voters participated.

That’s compared to 8% who voted four years ago when the same four Albuquerque City Council races were up for vote, though that was a city-specific election.

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