NAME: Charlene Pyskoty
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Mental health therapist
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Tijeras
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Incumbent commissioner, background in public health and mental health, small business owner
EDUCATION: Master’s degrees in sociology, public health, clinical counseling
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Charlene4BernCo.com
1. What is the top priority in your District and how would you address it as a county commissioner?
The top priority across the district is safety. In the East Mountains, that means clean, accessible drinking water, wastewater disposal and fire safety. In Albuquerque, crime prevention, safe housing and behavioral health resources are key. I am working with federal, state and local agencies to fund all of these initiatives.
2. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support a tax increase? And what types, if any, would you support?
I would not support a tax increase.
3. What do you think should be the county’s top three capital project priorities?
The Crisis Triage Center is a necessary partnership with UNM to provide services to those in a behavioral health crisis. The Public Safety Training Academy will be a modern facility that meets the specific needs of our first responders. Water/wastewater projects countywide, and specifically District 5, sustain life and safety.
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?
An ongoing needs assessment would provide data to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs and pivot as needs change. Programs with lower-than-expected utilization could be pared back and money put toward more immediate needs. Continue to align our crime prevention programs and work in partnership with the City of Albuquerque.
5. What role, if any, should the county commission play in advising the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office on matters related to public safety?
I helped create the Sheriff’s Office Advisory and Review Board as a way for the public and BCSO to respectfully share perspectives and ideas, improve transparency and accountability, provide community engagement on policies, practices, procedures and offer advice to the commissioners and sheriff’s office.
6. What are your ideas for improving conditions for both employees and inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center?
Lower inmate population by maximizing services that help prevent crime and reduce recidivism. Recruit and retain staff to ensure safe jail operations. Fully staff medical and mental health positions and support addiction treatment services. Update IT and security systems. Improve working conditions, like providing nutritious food for employees.
7. How would you work to improve the economy in Bernalillo County?
Continue to support small businesses by seeking out resources to help them thrive. I initiated the patio grant program for restaurants and helped businesses apply for COVID relief funding. The county must be creative with its economic development strategies and focus growth on areas that are already planned for development.
8. What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
I support affordable housing and programs for Albuquerque Public Schools students/families who are homeless, small neighborhood shelters for women, housing for veterans, immigrants, and supportive aftercare for people struggling with addiction and other behavioral health issues. Wraparound services offer mental and physical health care, job training, and opportunities to afford sustainable housing.
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.