Name: Renee Grout
Political party: Republican
Education: Colorado College of Medical & Dental Assistants, 1982
Occupation: Family owned business, The Auto Clinic since 1989, established in 1954
Family: Jim Grout, husband; 3 children
Relevant experience: Small business owner
Campaign website: Vote.reneegrout.com
What is the biggest issue facing your district right now, and how would you address it?
The biggest issue facing my district is crime, which is out of control. I will fight to end “catch and release,” eliminate the sanctuary city law for illegal immigrants, and support our police by opposing any effort to defund the police.
What, if anything, can the Council do legislatively to reduce crime?
The City Council can eliminate the sanctuary city law. This terrible law means illegal immigrants who are arrested for crimes, including violent crimes like rape, are not turned over to federal authorities to be held for deportation. Instead, they are released back onto our streets.
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?
The city needs to get out from under the consent decree by whatever means necessary, because it is tying the hands of the police department and contributing to our crime wave. We now have more police officers investigating fellow officers than we have investigating homicides.
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?
We should increase police spending. A core function of government is to provide for public safety and we are currently suffering a massive crime wave. We should cut spending for wasteful projects and reallocate those tax dollars for public safety.
What else in the city’s current budget, if anything, do you believe should have more or less funding and why?
I believe that city government should focus its spending on basic services, like police and fire protection, improving roads, and enhancing our quality of life. We shouldn’t be wasting money on political projects like a new soccer stadium, or $250,000 for illegal immigrants, when basic services are suffering.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you support raising taxes?
I will not support any tax increase not approved by the voters.
What is your top idea for boosting the city’s economy?
We must make it easier for local small businesses to create more jobs, so our children and grandchildren don’t have to leave the state. That means cutting excessive regulations to create a more business-friendly environment. We should also do more to partner with our local schools to improve education.
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 oppose the new soccer stadium and believe voters will reject it. We have much more pressing needs in the city. Should they vote yes, this stadium should be built in a location supported by adjacent neighborhoods that will not require mass land acquisitions to inflate costs.
What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
We can reduce homelessness by increasing mental health services, drug rehab, and affordable housing while also creating a structured assistance program ensuring everyone has an ID, medications, address and a sponsor like advocate they can reach out to with questions and needs to become successful, productive members of society.
What should the city do to ensure the success of its first Gateway Center?
In addition to the above, make sure to offer medical respite for the injured to heal, suboxone and methadone treatment, and continue to re-evaluate our programs — knowing some attempts may work while others may need to be re-worked or even eliminated.
What, if anything, should the city do for people living on the streets who do not want to stay in a shelter?
We must enforce the law and stop allowing the homeless who refuse help to set up camp at and obstruct city parks, intersections and public areas.
What large infrastructure projects would you push for in the city’s next capital implementation program?
We should finish the already large infrastructure projects in process. We must always attract new residents and businesses to make this home, but until we finish what we started, it is difficult to imagine starting new, large projects with only promises of completion.
What plans do you have to raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents?
We will raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents by finally getting tough on crime and addressing the out-of-control homelessness. We deserve safe neighborhoods, parks, biking trails, zoo and BioPark, etc. However, none of that can be enjoyed until we deal with crime and homelessness.
What differentiates you from your opponents?
I have lived in this district for 43 years, run a small business for 32 years, and been involved in my community the entire time. I am the only candidate with a realistic plan to address crime and homelessness.
Name one issue not mentioned in the questions above that you would plan to tackle as a councilor.
I want to assist in the redevelopment of the East Central/Route 66 corridor making it a thriving, beautiful and safe place for families to live and work.
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?