Q&A mayoral candidate Manuel Gonzales III - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A mayoral candidate Manuel Gonzales III

Manuel Gonzales

Name: Manuel Gonzales III

Political party: Democratic

Age: 58

Education: Wayland Baptist University, Bachelor of Science in occupational education; major: management; minor: occupational education; minor: specialization in law enforcement. Community College of Central New Mexico, associate of applied science degree in criminal justice, April 1993.

Occupation: Sheriff of Bernalillo County, 2010 and 2014-present

Family: Married to Elaine Gonzales; three children

Relevant experience: Elected sheriff of Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office with almost 30 years of public safety experience. Experienced executive leader of a premier law enforcement agency. Proven record of fostering collaborative relationships to address Albuquerque’s No. 1 issue: crime. Proven record of leadership, trust and effectiveness within Bernalillo County. 20 years of experience successfully owning and managing a small business.

Campaign website: mannyforabq.com

What is the biggest issue facing the city today, and how would you address it?

City needs a leader. I am that leader. I will provide excellent service to the public. While the city faces staffing shortages, our organization was nearly 100% staffed. I will de-politicize city services and enable personnel to do their jobs. The cultural change will result in improved quality of life.

What is your strategy for reducing violent crime?

I will take a people centric approach to have law enforcement forming relationships with community. An all-hands-on deck approach is needed, to include partnering with all law enforcement stakeholders in New Mexico. …

What is your strategy for reducing property crime?

A strong omnipresence of law enforcement is needed in the community. Law enforcement must respond to calls for service and actually enforce laws. An all-hands-on deck community centric approach is needed. Profound partnerships with community and other public safety stakeholders is the key to success. I have those relationships.

APD continues operating under a U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement that outlines reforms, policy changes, and mandatory training that police need to complete over several years. Should the city continue with that agreement or try to modify it? If so, how should the city try to modify it?

Become CASA compliant. Changes will be made upon an immediate audit of organization’s policies, practices and budget. Unconstitutional policies prohibiting officers from doing their job will be eliminated. Permit APD personnel to arrest shoplifters, vandals and trespassers. Area agencies will be encouraged to assist APD in combating crime.

About 31% of all the city’s general fund spending currently goes to the police department. Is that the right amount? If not, should it be higher or lower and why?

The APD is funded for 1,100-1,200 officers and has fallen drastically shy of meeting that number. My opponent lacks the incentive to fill law enforcement vacancies. He has a track record of paying for special projects or GO bonds instead of funding crime fighting partnerships.

With more police officers nationwide leaving the profession, what would you do to retain Albuquerque Police Department officers?

I will enable and support APD leadership to fight crime. I will share my success as a law enforcement leader of an agency with 100% staffing levels. I will tirelessly serve the people of Albuquerque and support police officers so they are enabled to do their job.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support raising taxes?

I would only support raising taxes through voter approved elections.

What specific industries should the city target with economic development incentives?

First and foremost, I will address crime in Albuquerque to attract and support various industries. I will support existing industries such as tourism, scientific laboratories, defense technologies, tourism, arts/entertainment along with amusement and outdoor activities.

What are your economic development strategies for boosting small, local businesses?

The city will undergo a review of all licensing and permitting processes in support of small businesses. Aside from smart utilization of Federal COVID Relief Funds (grants), I will work towards reducing red tape and delays in city services to include permitting.

Do you support issuing $50 million in gross receipts tax bonds to fund a new multipurpose soccer stadium for New Mexico United’s use? If so, why is that the best use of $50 million? If not, why?

No. The soccer stadium is not a priority at this time. We need to address the crime crisis in Albuquerque.

If the bond passes, what role should the community have in selecting a stadium location?

If the bond passes, the public will play an important role in selecting the location, to include, public comment community meetings, surveys and an economic study for best site locations.

The city is establishing a new Gateway Center at the old Lovelace hospital in Southeast Albuquerque and some neighbors are concerned that it will be too big of an operation. What is the maximum number of overnight shelter beds the facility should have?

I am not in favor of colonizing the homeless population. Viable facilities like the tiny home village and faith based facilities are often underutilized. Why build additional facilities? The old Lovelace Hospital should be repurposed to support economic development and technology industry. The public needs to decide.

What is the city’s responsibility to neighborhoods around the Gibson Gateway and any future city-owned shelters?

The city has an obligation to ensure the public’s safety. This means, the city must enforce its own ordinances and state laws while putting people in contact with behavioral health concerns in contact with wrap around services. City services need to work with all stakeholders to address homelessness.

What should the city do for people living on the streets who do not want to stay in a shelter?

Enforce existing ordinances, all criminal laws and work to create more restrictive ordinances to discourage living in the streets.

Do you support sanctioned encampments (sometimes called “safe outdoor spaces”) in the city? Why or why not?

I do not condone or support birdfeeder colonization project to house the homeless population.

A 2020 analysis showed the city needs 15,500 more affordable housing units to meet demand for those with extremely low incomes. What is your plan to address that gap?

The pandemic has emphasized the important role stable and affordable housing plays in our community. We need scalable and affordable housing. I will provide incentives to developers to build affordable homes. We need to create free enterprise for builders/developers to build up the housing market and increase affordable housing.

Fewer than half of Albuquerque residents agree the city is responsive to community needs, according to the city’s own survey. What would you do to improve responsiveness?

I am committed to actually utilizing existing infrastructure by expanding and tailoring hours of operation to our community to meet the needs of the public.

What large infrastructure projects would you push for in the city’s next capital implementation program?

Collaboration of city and county resources is necessary for Albuquerque to prosper. My focus will be on developing infrastructure in partnership with area stakeholders to bolster services in the community. Build satellite offices within the city and modernize systems technology to streamline services for businesses, builders and developers.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for first responders and other city employees who have direct contact with the public?

I would only support a vaccination order if deemed constitutional.

What plans do you have to raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents?

We need to get back to fundamental public services and increased community contacts. I am opposed to policies and practices that deter public employees from providing face-to-face services. Community based services need to reflect the needs of the community we serve. For example, community centers will need to work hand-in-hand with area schools and residents.

What specific metrics would you use to gauge your success as mayor?

Decreased crime and increased economic development.

What differentiates you from your opponents?

I have honorably and commendably served our country and community my entire adult life. I have a proven track record of success in both public service and private business. As mayor, I will continue to serve and protect rights, property and lives. I am prepared to lead Albuquerque.

Name one issue not mentioned in the questions above that you would plan to tackle as Mayor.

Consolidation of services between the city and county is needed more than ever. As mayor, I will explore opportunities for consolidation of public services to best address the needs of the people.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state?

No.


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