Aragon formally declares mayoral candidacy - Albuquerque Journal

Aragon formally declares mayoral candidacy

Albuquerque radio station owner Eddy Aragon formally declared his mayoral candidacy on Tuesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

After years of dipping his toes in the local political pool, Eddy Aragon is now plunging in.

The conservative radio host and station owner on Tuesday formally declared his candidacy in the 2021 Albuquerque mayor's race, adding his name to a lineup that includes incumbent Tim Keller and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales.

Aragon, 46, is a newcomer both to this race – having only started his qualifying push last month – and to elections overall. While he registered as a candidate in the 2017 mayoral race, he dropped out prior to the election. Earlier this year, he sought the Republican Party's nomination in a special election to determine the Albuquerque area's representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the party's state central membership decided to put Mark Moores on the ticket instead.

The 2021 mayor's race marks Aragon's first appearance on an election ballot.

“I am absolutely ready for this endeavor,” Aragon said, citing his business experience as a radio station owner and his daily communication with the public as a radio host. “I prepared for this every day for the last six years without knowing.”

During a Tuesday news conference, Aragon offered a glimpse into his platform.

Aragon said he is against Albuquerque's City Council-approved sanctuary city policy and several other policies and programs already in place, from the hiring bonuses the city offers new employees in certain hard-to-fill municipal government jobs and the economic development incentives provided to companies like Netflix to the $133 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, which he said he would evaluate and dismantle if it's cost-effective.

Aragon questioned the wisdom of opening the Gateway Center shelter and services center in the old Lovelace hospital on Gibson and of other government investments in homeless services. He said he wants to “recriminalize” homelessness so that the city's approach includes “penalties in addition to helping” people who live on the streets.

“I think the solutions that we've proposed thus far have not reduced the level of homelessness,” said Aragon, who noted that his own grandmother experienced homelessness.

He said he would do whatever he could to fight potential future pandemic-related business lockdowns – which are typically the purview of state health officials – and that he would oppose a vaccine mandate for the city's workforce.

Aragon would not, however, fight the U.S. Department of Justice-ordered reforms within the Albuquerque Police Department, saying the city should hasten compliance in order to get past the associated oversight.

“It's something that we have to do, and we should shut up about it,” he said.

City races are officially nonpartisan, but Aragon is the only Republican who qualified for the mayoral ballot.

Only 27% of Albuquerque voters are registered Republicans, according to numbers the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office provided the Journal on Tuesday. A plurality of city voters – 47.3% – are registered Democrats. Keller and Gonzales are Democrats.

Aragon still likes his chances, saying he can appeal to the city's significant independent voter base and maybe attract some Democrats, too.

“I started out as a Democrat; I know the Democrat Party pretty well. I think I have crossover appeal,” he said. “I'm Hispanic, and that actually matters, I think, a heck of a lot more sometimes than party does.”

While Keller already has received over $600,000 in public campaign financing, and Gonzales remains embroiled in a legal battle over whether he was improperly denied public campaign financing, Aragon will run his campaign on private donations. Though he's only just begun to fundraise, he said being a radio personality should help.

“I plan on leveraging and utilizing my media (and) my name recognition,” he said.

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