Name: Lan Sena
Political party: Democratic
Education: Master’s in health administration, UNM; bachelor’s in political science, UNM
Occupation: Albuquerque city councilor, District 1
Family: Joey Sena, husband, and our 4 dogs
Relevant experience: Over 10 years of experience in local, state and federal policies. Currently serving as the city councilor.
Campaign website: sena4abq.com
What is the biggest issue facing your district right now, and how would you address it?
Too many in our community don’t feel safe. That can change if we adopt comprehensive approaches like treating community safety as a public health issue. That is why I championed the Community Safety Department. We must let social workers do their job so that police can do theirs — stopping violent crime.
What, if anything, can the Council do legislatively to reduce crime?
Council can reduce crime by addressing its root causes: poverty, addiction and mental health. Council created the Community Safety Department to work in the community to help those in need. Also, crime goes down when meaningful employment goes up. We must support a living wage, paid leave and safe workplaces.
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?
We need a strong, accountable police department. Under the Department of Justice, we have made progress toward improving civil rights and community engagement. However, we need to ensure the sustainability of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency so that policing policies reflect our community values and constitutional rights.
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 police department needs the funding to put enough community-minded officers on the streets, but how they spend money specifically on combating crime should be evaluated, like the multimillion dollar “shot spotter” technology, which is supposed to alert police when a gun is fired, but has not proved effective.
What else in the city’s current budget, if anything, do you believe should have more or less funding and why?
Senior Affairs needs more funding as we are seeing an increase in our senior population and need more facilities. Family and Community Department should have an increase as we are seeing an increase of services due to the pandemic, rising poverty and helping address the root causes for the unsheltered.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you support raising taxes?
I would consider supporting a tax on cannabis to pay for housing and water conservation efforts.
What is your top idea for boosting the city’s economy?
Anyone who wants to start a business should be able to. I worked with the small business office at the Economic Development Department on start-up grants and “bringing City Hall to the District” to give people the ability to connect with departments, resources, and business mentors in their communities.
If city voters approve a $50 million gross receipts tax bond for a new multipurpose soccer stadium, where do you think it should be built?
I do not support the stadium. $50 million would be better spent addressing homelessness and affordable housing. However, I believe voters should have their say. If it is approved, I would like West Side locations considered, but I will only support a location where the community is fully onboard.
What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
We face a homelessness crisis. The Community Safety Department, which I championed, will bring professionals into communities to address the root causes of homelessness. We need more affordable housing, like the Nuevo Atrisco development on the West Side. And we must prevent homelessness by supporting emergency rental assistance.
What should the city do to ensure the success of its first Gateway Center?
Partnering with our city’s many service providers and nonprofits that provide services well and know the community is a first step. We must also learn about and understand best practices from places like Tucson, where they have a successful facility.
What, if anything, should the city do for people living on the streets who do not want to stay in a shelter?
The city should invest in 24/7 wrap-around services that can meet people where their needs are. Some people do not feel safe at shelters; however, that doesn’t mean they don’t wish to have a safe space or services our shelters provide. Mobile outreach is critical in understanding the needs.
What large infrastructure projects would you push for in the city’s next capital implementation program?
The Ken Sanchez Indoor Sports Complex and affordable housing. The Sportsplex has been in the works for over five years and youth feel the impact of not having that space. We are also 15,500 units behind on affordable housing, according to a commissioned study, and housing must be prioritized.
What plans do you have to raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents?
Investing in our youth, like offering them pathways to trades, mentorship and quality education, will uplift our community and pay off down the road with more jobs and higher pay. It will help reduce crime through early interventions and provide supportive services.
What differentiates you from your opponents?
As the daughter of refugees, an Asian American, a woman and a cancer patient, I bring a unique perspective to Council. I understand financial insecurity and housing instability. I’ve lived those experiences and will always lift up the voices of all the people I represent.
Name one issue not mentioned in the questions above that you would plan to tackle as a councilor?
The West Side has long seen disinvestment — in infrastructure, nonprofit services, youth engagement and employment, and lack of schools to address overcrowding. Since coming to Council, I have brought critical dollars in infrastructure to the West Side and changed our CIP process to make disinvested areas a priority.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
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?