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Benton, Bassan prevail in City Council races

Isaac Benton and Brook Bassan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Isaac Benton will be back — and he’ll be joined by Brook Bassan.

The two emerged as winners in Tuesday’s Albuquerque City Council runoff election, according to unofficial results posted by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office.

For Benton, it’s an extension of a 14-year career on the city’s legislative body. Bassan, meanwhile, won her first bid for elected office.

“I can’t wait to hit the ground running, but I also realize I (am not going) in there and taking over things my way,” said Bassan, a mother of four and self-described “household CEO,” who will begin representing the Northeast Heights-based District 4 in January. “It’s going to take a lot of listening and working with others to achieve positive results that benefit everyone.”

Benton, who narrowly maintained his District 2 position representing Downtown, Old Town and parts of the North Valley, said he was eager to keep working on the city’s homelessness crisis as well as establishing a “modern energy code” for construction.

“I’m looking forward to continuing with all those things I’ve been working on,” he said.

The runoff election solidified the composition of the nine-member council for the next two years — and it will not look much different than it does now. Bassan is the only new member, as incumbents Pat Davis and Trudy Jones already won reelection last month and the other five seats are not on the ballot until 2021.

And the political breakdown will remain the same, with six Democrats and three Republicans, though city offices are technically nonpartisan.

In fact, Benton, 68, wound up in a runoff with fellow Democrat Zack Quintero, a 29-year-old legal analyst. It was a sometimes acrimonious battle between a veteran and a political upstart who share many of the same progressive principles.

“Even though this (election) was more of a squeaker, it’s more gratifying than the other ones,” Benton said. “I must say that in my other campaigns, I felt very confident that I would get it done and this one I knew it was going to be close. I’m just so very happy (to win).”

After running unopposed in 2015, Benton faced five challengers this election cycle.

He performed the best of the six candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot, but did not get the required 50% of the vote necessary to win the seat. That forced him into a runoff with Quintero, which was indeed close.

Benton had 52.2% of the vote in Tuesday’s runoff compared to Quintero’s 47.8%.

The result was similar in District 4.

Bassan, a Republican, finished with 53.5% of the vote to Democrat Ane Romero’s 46.5%.

They were two of three hopefuls who ran to succeed Brad Winter, who is retiring after serving five terms.

Bassan had the best showing of the three on the Nov. 5 ballot, but fell about 100 votes shy of hitting the 50% bar, setting up the runoff with Romero.

Their race grew increasingly acrimonious in the last few weeks.

Romero accused Bassan of flip-flopping for changing her political party and switching from public to private financing for the runoff, while Bassan’s campaign called Romero a “political opportunist” for having pursued multiple elected offices. (She lost a state House race in 2016.)

In an interview Tuesday night, Bassan described election season as a roller coaster, but said she knows she has work ahead of her as the lone newcomer on the council and one who sits in the political minority.

“We have to find a way to compromise and find a way to benefit all of the residents of the city,” she said.

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