NAME: Barbara Baca
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I am a lifelong resident of Albuquerque’s West Side where my husband and I raised our family. I have devoted my professional career to public service and have over 33 years of experience in natural resource conservation, planning, and land management. I have worked at the national level and for local governments. I worked for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., and worked at the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Senior Affairs, helping seniors stay active, engaged and living in their homes as long as safely possible. I retired as the City’s Director of Parks and Recreation in 2014 and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
EDUCATION: B.A. in recreation from the University of New Mexico; M.S. in recreation administration University of Colorado, Boulder.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: BacaForBernCo.com
1. What is the top priority in your District and how would you address it as a county commissioner?
My first priority is to improve public safety throughout Bernalillo County. The city and county can work better together to address crime. The Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office can improve communications through the development of a combined dispatch to reduce emergency response time. I will advocate for additional resources for this effort.
2. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support a tax increase? And what types, if any, would you support?
We must address public safety and homelessness. If elected, I will evaluate the budgets of the Behavioral Health Initiative, the BCSO and the Metropolitan Detention Center to determine if efficiencies can be found to improve these programs. We must engage the community in solutions. If additional public funding is warranted, I would support it.
3. What do you think should be the county’s top three capital project priorities?
We must prioritize roadway improvements that support existing neighborhoods, while participating in long-term regional planning for infrastructure. This approach allows for a cooperative effort to seek funds from local, state and federal governments. My priorities are the Atrisco Vista extension, Paseo del Norte/Unser and a West Side city/county multigenerational center.
4. What, if anything, do you think the county should be doing differently with regard to how it manages and uses the behavioral health tax?
There is the need to establish a comprehensive evaluation of these programs and prioritize programs that are effective. The city and county should pool resources and invest in common programs that are accessible and impactful. A structure should be established for the state to become a partner in this effort.
5. What role, if any, should the county commission play in advising the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office on matters related to public safety?
My hope is that with a new sheriff, relationships will improve. The commission provides funding for BCSO and both answer to the public on issues of public safety. The two must work cooperatively so appropriate resources are made available; neighborhoods are safer; and residents know that they are being heard.
6. What are your ideas for improving conditions for both employees and inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center?
We need to improve conditions at MDC for the employees and inmates. MDC is understaffed and I would support increasing pay to retain employees so we are more competitive with surrounding communities.
7. How would you work to improve the economy in Bernalillo County?
As a community, we must create an environment where local business can thrive and create long term, better paying jobs. As a responsible government, the county can encourage new businesses or expand local business through awarding Industrial Revenue Bonds for qualifying, homegrown companies.
8. What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
Bernalillo County must expand mental and behavioral health programs and facilities to reduce addiction and homelessness. The city and county can coordinate better and invest in a common Community Safety Department which includes trained professionals with backgrounds in behavioral and mental health to respond to nonviolent calls.
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? If so, explain.