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Editorial: Benton, Bassan are Journal’s picks for council runoff

Bernalillo County residents outdid themselves this year by turning out to vote in comparatively massive numbers for an off-year local election.

But election season isn’t over quite yet.

Voters in City Council District 2 (which includes Downtown, Old Town and parts of the North Valley) and in District 4 (which includes large parts of the Northeast Heights) have begun early voting in a runoff election that will culminate Dec. 10.

Despite the inconvenience, voters in those districts should take the opportunity to weigh in on what are important races for the city of Albuquerque.

In District 2, incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton outperformed his top rival, legal analyst Zack Quintero, by a full 21 percentage points the first time around, but failed to secure the 50% overall needed to secure the seat.

While Benton and Quintero have plenty in common – both are progressive Democrats – the Journal Editorial Board has endorsed Benton based on his 14 years of fierce advocacy on behalf of the district.

Problems that plague Downtown and Old Town are far from solved, but Benton has been faithful in his efforts to keep chipping away at them without neglecting important basic needs like funding for a recent drainage project.

To the north, District 4 voters face a much more contrasting choice between Brook Bassan, a political newcomer and Republican who carries with her the endorsement of outgoing Councilor Brad Winter, and Ane Romero, a Democrat and deputy legislative director for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

District 4’s race was fairly close, with Bassan garnering 49% of the vote and Romero with 42%.

The Journal Editorial Board has endorsed Bassan, acknowledging the weight of Winter’s opinion and the need for a fiscal conservative to balance the council’s makeup.

The City Council has important business before it. Councilors must work quickly and thoughtfully to establish policy to deal with crime, homelessness, the economy and more. The council’s decisions impact the lives of every person who lives in Albuquerque, whether or not residents realize and acknowledge it.

So residents of District 2 and District 4: Take that reality seriously, and get out to vote – one more time.

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.