Name: Mauro Montoya
Political party: Democratic
Education: JD, George Washington University National Law Center, 1984; BA, New Mexico State University, 1980; diploma, Highland High School Albuquerque, 1976
Occupation: Small business owner, retired civil rights attorney
Family: Husband, Andy Walden-Montoya
Relevant experience: Civil rights attorney, retired; small business owner; past president of the New Mexico Out Business Alliance; active ordained minister; former big brother with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, volunteer for various causes, including tutoring elementary school students and adult literacy, current board member for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and the Wheels Museum. …
Campaign website: mauroforabq.com
What is the biggest issue facing your district right now, and how would you address it?
Crime affects quality of life for citizens, business investment and property values. We need a fully staffed APD, working in partnership with our community to make Albuquerque safer. Expanding the Community Safety Department to ease the burden on police, increasing officer recruitment and complying with the Justice Department are essential.
What, if anything, can the Council do legislatively to reduce crime?
Continued analysis of city expenditures to find more money for the Community Safety Department is the council’s best strategy for deploying more mental health professionals and allowing police to fight violent crime. Modifying the DOJ settlement agreement will allow us to hire more police and reduce use of force issues.
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?
Continue with CASA, but modify it to reduce paperwork burden on police that takes them off the street for hours. “Use of force” and paperwork are the biggest reasons why police are leaving APD. We must reduce the red tape while ensuring use of force is minimized.
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?
As we build up the Community Safety Department, scope of policing will have a reduced footprint, allowing Albuquerque to shift funds to programs addressing the root causes of crime — education and drug treatment. However, with violent and property crime rates rising, immediately lowering the “core” policing budget is premature.
What else in the city’s current budget, if anything, do you believe should have more or less funding and why?
Preventing sprawl is essential to consolidating vibrant local communities and concentrating complementary businesses. We need more mixed-use real estate to promote walkable, thriving neighborhoods by situating apartments above retail establishments. From a zoning and tax standpoint, public/private partnerships will unlock this growth factor.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you support raising taxes?
Raising taxes as we struggle with the ongoing pandemic would slow Albuquerque’s economic recovery. Access to new technologies and data allow budget planners to make smarter, more efficient budget allocations and access to further federal relief will prevent the need to raise taxes.
What is your top idea for boosting the city’s economy?
Building out new sustainable infrastructure to be able to incubate, grow and attract more tech businesses. Streamlining regulations to encourage entrepreneurs to start new businesses as small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
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?
The stadium should be built Downtown as part of a core arts and entertainment district. Benefit to surrounding neighborhoods, optimal use of public transit, and augmenting the ambiance of Downtown Albuquerque must be factors in locating the property. Respecting historic districts and local neighborhoods needs to be the priority.
What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
Increasing budgets for mental health and drug addiction counseling to a level commensurate with the need is vital. Fully funding the Gateway Center and the Community Safety Department so we can reach the maximum of unsheltered to receive services to start them on a path out of homelessness.
What should the city do to ensure the success of its first Gateway Center?
Fully fund the center and ensure it is a one-stop service center providing mental health and drug addiction counseling, educational, occupational and housing opportunities so our unsheltered have a path out of homelessness.
What, if anything, should the city do for people living on the streets who do not want to stay in a shelter?
Criminalizing homelessness with panhandling and camping laws never addresses root causes and simply pushes the most vulnerable into the shadows. The majority of unsheltered residents not willing to pursue stable housing are dealing with untreated drug addiction and/or mental health issues. Ensuring services are widely available is paramount.
What large infrastructure projects would you push for in the city’s next capital implementation program?
A sustainable electrical grid for the new electrical future; cooler, more permeable alternatives to asphalt to lower the city’s temperature and increase drainage to our aquifer; and parking lot structures with solar panels and more trees to lessen the heat island.
What plans do you have to raise the quality of life for Albuquerque residents?
Education is the silver bullet to all of society’s problems. Albuquerque can be a bastion. We start by eliminating drugs and crime. We need public/private partnerships to stoke economic opportunity and grow school funding. Finally, environmental and economic justice reforms are critical to retention of our best and brightest.
What differentiates you from your opponents?
I love Albuquerque, being born, raised and educated here. I am past president of the New Mexico Out Business Alliance, a local business owner, board member of the Wheels Museum and Planned Parenthood, ordained minister, openly gay, HIV+, and Latino. I am the only candidate with local, state and national endorsements.
Name one issue not mentioned in the questions above that you would plan to tackle as a councilor?
Environment. We must lower the temperature of Albuquerque and do better to preserve our water resources. Planting more trees, using asphalt alternatives, building parking lot shades with solar panels, using mulch instead of rocks, xeriscaping, and capturing more storm runoff are a few methods to start with.
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?
Yes. Misdemeanor in Washington, D.C., in 1987 for protesting in front of the White House against the Reagan administration’s lack of AIDS policies. I am proud of this arrest because it was for an important cause. It is my only arrest ever.