Incumbent BernCo commissioner faces challenger - Albuquerque Journal

Incumbent BernCo commissioner faces challenger

Charlene Pyskoty

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

An incumbent commissioner who says she’s battle-tested and ready for a second term representing Bernalillo County’s eastern reaches is facing a primary challenge from a first-time political candidate who contends the county government is heading in the wrong direction.

District 5 Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, a mental health therapist in her first term on the county’s governing board, said she’s worked to do what she thinks is right, even in the face of criticism, and considers herself a responsive representative who helps people who don’t know where else to turn.

“I always wanted to be that person; that’s why I ran for office,” she said. “Having been a therapist for 20 years and helping people one on one, I wanted to keep helping people in a different way.”

But a host of candidates are looking to unseat Pyskoty, including Democratic primary opponent Eric Olivas. A small-business owner who served previously on the city of Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency, Olivas said he would bring a distinct perspective to the board.

Eric Olivas

“I have a record of service and of really understanding a lot of different viewpoints, from being a laborer, but also being a job creator and being involved heavily in public service already,” said Olivas, who owns a five-employee landscaping and plumbing company.

District 5 extends from the middle of Albuquerque to the county’s eastern border, covering such areas as Uptown, Tijeras and Edgewood.

Pyskoty, who lives in the East Mountains, said she’s worked on a variety of initiatives in her district since taking office, from bringing a new water and wastewater system to Carnuel and a mental wellness center to the East Mountains, to fighting alongside neighbors against a proposed Albuquerque Public Schools bus depot in the area.

“I feel like my biggest accomplishments were not necessarily legislation, but things that really affected people in their day-to-day lives,” she said of her first term.

Pyskoty, 61, had never held elected office before taking her seat on the commission in 2019 and said the reality has been far different than what she predicted, due largely to the challenges of shepherding the county through a global pandemic.

“You have to be fast and flexible, and light on your feet and creative,” she said. “There’s been so much that’s happened in the past two years that I never would’ve had on my commissioner bingo card.”

With another four years in office, she said she’d focus additional energy on the county’s Behavioral Health Initiative, funded since 2015 by a special gross receipts tax.

The BHI is undergoing a reorganization. With a strategic plan nearly completed, Pyskoty said she believes the BHI is working well.

But Olivas says the BHI is an example of current county leaders’ failings, saying it seems discombobulated.

“We’re not seeing a wholesale plan; it’s a lot of money the county has, and the city has its own pot of money, and we’re not seeing results,” he said.

Olivas has suggested consolidating the county and city behavioral health activities into an entity similar to the water utility authority, which is governed by a board made up of elected officials from both jurisdictions. He said “personalities and egos,” and quests for political credit sometimes inhibit intergovernmental efforts, but that the water authority is a “shining example” of how to do it effectively.

“It’s about leadership and having people in place who are willing to push for that and fight for that,” he said.

Olivas, 31 and an Uptown area resident, said he believes the county has mismanaged the jail and not done enough to partner with the city to combat crime. While the sheriff, the county’s top law enforcement official, is elected independently, Olivas said he believes that, as a commissioner, he could help facilitate more collaboration.

“I want to run to be a bridge-builder,” he said.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Incumbent BernCo commissioner faces challenger

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
California is lone holdout in Colorado River cuts proposal
ABQnews Seeker
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six western ... FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut water ...
2
Senate panel, on party-line vote, approves bill increasing minimum ...
ABQnews Seeker
A push to increase the minimum ... A push to increase the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21 cleared its first Senate hurdle Monday, after a heated ...
3
Bill aimed at bolstering NM's patchwork rural health care ...
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal to tap New Mexico's ... A proposal to tap New Mexico's revenue windfall to bolster health care services in rural parts of the state where residents frequently have to ...
4
New Mexico bill to restrict lobbyist ‘revolving door’ advances
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal moving through the Senate ... A proposal moving through the Senate would prohibit former legislators and appointees working under the governor from returning immediately to the Roundhouse as paid ...
5
New Mexico’s checkerspot butterfly placed on Endangered Species List
ABQnews Seeker
With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies ... With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies being raised at the ABQ BioPark than found in the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ...
6
No drama for birthday llama: ABQ llama celebrates 27th ...
ABQnews Seeker
'This llama is bringing everyone together,' ... 'This llama is bringing everyone together,' says family friend
7
Photos: UNM Lobos men's basketball team take on Air ...
ABQnews Seeker
8
UNM College of Nursing programs receive high ranking from ...
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico's College ... The University of New Mexico's College of Nursing online master of science in nursing programs ...
9
Days after New Mexico records coldest temperature in lower ...
ABQnews Seeker
A small New Mexico village known ... A small New Mexico village known for its ski resort took the spot as one of the country's coldest places on Thursday last week. ...