NAME: Eric Olivas
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Landscaping and plumbing small business owner
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Owner/operator of Olivas Enterprises LLC landscaping and plumbing with five employees; licensed mechanical contractor and journeyman plumber/pipefitter; served two years on the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Board, including service as board chair; served two years as chair of the Northeast Heights Community Policing Council; Quigley Park Neighborhood Association president; Animal Humane of NM volunteer.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Sandia High School. Bachelor’s degree from UNM in chemistry and biology, summa cum laude. Master’s degree from UNM in biology.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: olivasforbernco.com
1. What is the top priority in your District and how would you address it as a county commissioner?
Crime is the biggest issue in District 5 and the county. The behavioral health crisis and the crime we see are related. In addition to the need for more police and sheriff’s deputies, we need increased crisis triage beds, shelter capacity, and substance abuse treatment.
2. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support a tax increase? And what types, if any, would you support?
Current revenues are strong and no tax increase is warranted. In the future, I would only support non-regressive taxes. I generally will not support property tax increases and GRT increases as they most affect low income households.
3. What do you think should be the county’s top three capital project priorities?
1. Affordable housing and behavioral health treatment (crisis triage care, supportive housing, substance abuse treatment centers, 24/7 care coordination); 2. Water/wastewater infrastructure for areas without ie. East Mountains and South Valley; 3. Electrification of the county vehicle fleet and buildings, saving taxpayers money and lowering emissions.
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?
The Behavioral Health Initiative was implemented seven years ago with nominal results. There’s a gap analysis (ignored by the commission) which discusses improving coordination between the city, county and state. I’d create a Behavioral Health Authority, similar to the water authority, to coordinate planning, development and operation of the BHI.
5. What kind of metrics do you think the county should monitor to determine if it is spending the behavioral health tax revenue effectively?
Metrics must be regularly reported: annual BHI appropriations, number of individuals served, number of individuals directed to permanent housing, number of individuals treated for substance abuse conditions, length of time in recovery, number of individuals treated for mental/behavioral health conditions, cost per patient, and comparisons with similar communities.
6. What role, if any, should the county commission play in advising the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office on matters related to public safety?
The commission appropriates funds for this separate but equal office of government. There must be a good working relationship and an understanding of the issues the deputies face. We can support law enforcement while ensuring accountability. The county can bring its behavioral and substance abuse resources to assist the sheriff.
7. What are your ideas for improving conditions for both employees and inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center?
Recently, we had 10 officers supervising 1,400 inmates at MDC. It’s a regular occurrence. This is unsafe for officers and inmates and puts our community at risk. We need more corrections officers and staff. As a business owner I understand recruitment and retention is correlated with pay and benefits.
8. How would you work to improve the economy in Bernalillo County?
Focus on crime! Crime is the main economic problem in the county. Businesses and residents are suffering and often leave because of crime. We need partnerships between the city and county to tackle this and we need to fix the BHI. We need to support infill projects and small businesses.
9. What specific strategies do you have for reducing homelessness?
Follow the Gap Study the county has already done! Create a Behavioral Health Authority (see above); support a 24/7 Crisis and Provider Coordinating Center; increase incentives for development of affordable housing; partner with the city on ACS; listen to the needs of the community, hold people accountable.
10. Would you have voted to certify the county’s 2020 general election results? Why or why not?
Yes. From our secretary of state to our county clerks we have heard and seen evidence that the 2020 election was secure and in fact was one of the most professional and safe elections ever conducted. Extremists who undermine our elections system jeopardize our entire democracy and way of life.
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.