Lobbyist answers to landowners, not county residents - Albuquerque Journal

Lobbyist answers to landowners, not county residents

Vanessa Alarid’s accusations that I am “undemocratic” and unresponsive to my district (Journal, Jan. 4), in particular the West Side, is an attempt to deflect criticism for her failure to successfully advocate for her position that the West Side is and has been at a huge disadvantage by having a commissioner that represents neighborhoods east of the river as well. Having another commissioner attempt to submit a new redistricting map at the 11th hour was a failure on her part.

When it came time for the Bernalillo County Commission to adopt a redistricting map, it’s a fact any one of the Bernalillo County commissioners had time to have put forward a different redistricting map – months in fact – on behalf of their constituency. All of the commissioners were presented with several maps, some of which had radical district boundary changes. However, none were put forward by any commissioner for consideration. The fact is the census did not show the need to significantly alter the district boundaries because the population in all but one district showed growth. Also, most notably at this commission meeting, there was no testimony, other than a letter from N.M. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, in favor of a wholly West Side commission district.

While Alarid identifies herself as a neighborhood champion for the West Side of Albuquerque, she neglects to include her employment. She is the long-time lobbyist for land agents for Santolina and the other thousands of acres of undeveloped land on the West Side – now in private corporate hands but once known as the Atrisco Land Grant. She also neglects to mention she is Maestas’ wife – a relationship that gives her an advantage as a lobbyist.

Alarid has been very aggressive on advocating for the land agents she represents, in particular seeking entitlements – zoning, Tax Increment Districts and other tax-subsided infrastructure. I have made it clear to her on many occasions that I support sound incremental development, prioritizing the needs of existing neighborhoods first on both sides of the river, and supporting businesses that provide good wages such as the business center and corridor where Amazon resides to create a jobs/housing balance that reduces stress on our river crossings. If that means to Alarid that I am not responsive to my district, so be it.

I was three times elected to serve as the District 1 representative on the County Commission and am accountable to a constituency. Alarid is a paid lobbyist and is accountable to her clients – some of whom, I understand, pay her very well.

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