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Long-serving councilor plans to step aside

City Councilor Don Harris is sworn in by Judge Henry Alaniz in December 2017. Harris, one of the longest-serving members of the current Albuquerque City Council, has decided he will not seek another term. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

City Councilor Don Harris

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Don Harris, one of the longest-serving members of the current Albuquerque City Council, has decided he will not seek another term.

Harris, whose Southeast Albuquerque district straddles East Central, said Monday that he is stepping aside after his fourth term concludes at the end of the year.

Harris and Downtown-area representative Isaac Benton are the most tenured members of the current council, having first been elected in 2005.

The 58-year-old Harris said he needs to focus more time and energy on his law firm, which specializes in bankruptcy, family law and probate cases.

Although city councilors are considered part-time employees, Harris said it is “certainly not an easy part-time job.” He said he has loved his time in office, but that it is a huge commitment.

“It takes away from your business, as well as your personal life,” Harris said Monday afternoon. “I missed a lot of time with my kids and my family.”

Although the council is officially nonpartisan, Harris is one of three Republicans on the nine-member panel. During council meetings, he has often questioned how decisions will affect businesses.

He has also taken an interest in the city’s open space program. In 2016, he sponsored legislation ensuring that 2% of every Albuquerque general obligation bond program through 2035 would be set aside to buy and restore open space properties. He also worked toward the city’s acquisition of 300 acres in the Tijeras Arroyo.

Ongoing projects in his district include improvements at the Rancho de Carnué archaeological site and construction of the Singing Arrow Community Center, a project Harris championed over some neighborhood objections about lost green space, and fears it would increase crime and noise.

Harris’ District 9 seat is one of five council positions on this fall’s ballot. All three West Side districts – 1, 3 and 5 – are up for election, as is District 7, which encompasses Uptown.

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