Editorial: Pacheco for sheriff, Baca and Olivas for BernCo Commission - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Pacheco for sheriff, Baca and Olivas for BernCo Commission

Today, the Journal announces its endorsements for the Bernalillo County commission and county sheriff. For ongoing coverage of the Nov. 8 general election, including candidate Q&As, news stories and endorsements, go to the Journal Election Guide at abqjournal.com.

Bernalillo County sheriff

Republican Paul Pacheco

Paul Pacheco

Bernalillo County voters are fortunate to have two good candidates for sheriff on this year’s ballot.

Both Republican Paul Pacheco and Democrat John Allen are retired law enforcement officers who want to reform the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

Pacheco is the outsider. He worked for the Albuquerque Police Department for 27 years before serving in the New Mexico House of Representatives for four years and then as an executive with the state Corrections Department for 4 1/2 years. He says he doesn’t have any close ties within the sheriff’s office and hasn’t promised anyone anything.

Allen served with the State Police for four years before joining BCSO in 2001. He says he was “pushed out and targeted” in January 2020 after he voiced concerns about the way things were being run by incumbent Democratic Sheriff Manny Gonzales, who is term-limited out. Allen is now a lead instructor at the Central New Mexico Community College law enforcement academy.

Both candidates want to rebuild relations with APD and the District Attorney’s Office. Both want the Legislature to enact “rebuttable presumption” to keep more violent offenders behind bars pending trial. Both want to crack down on retail crime and rebuild the sheriff’s office’s air unit.

And both say they want to reduce the number of deputies serving on federal task forces and get more deputies on the streets.

Pacheco says he’s running in part because his daughters have talked about leaving the Metro area due to the crime and violence. He points to the fact that only 77 of 325 sheriff deputies are on patrol and says he’d ask the County Commission to fund 75 additional deputies. Actually filling those positions could be even more challenging than funding them.

Allen, who says correct use of force and cultural diversity are key in training a new generation of law enforcement personnel, wants to have 120 to 135 deputies in the field and reduce response times.

Allen argues a corporate change in attitudes and more efficient court proceedings are needed to help fight retail crime by getting loss-prevention personnel to show up in court. He says store personnel are “worn out, discouraged” and give up with repeated court delays. That’s got to be fixed.

We endorsed both candidates in their primary races. Pacheco is a little bit old school, while Allen is more academic. Allen is very strong on training, while Pacheco knows how laws are written.

We give our general election endorsement to Pacheco by a hair because of his broader experience, his commitment to hammer on lower-level crimes and his independence from the sheriff’s office.

Also on the ballot is 21-year-old Kaelan Dreyer, a Libertarian protest candidate who has never served in law enforcement.

We encourage voters to listen to the Oct. 26 debate of the candidates at 2 p.m. on KKOB News Radio to get a firsthand view of their approaches to the office.

Bernalillo County Commission, District 1

Democrat Barbara Baca

Barbara Baca

Baca spent 33 years in Albuquerque’s city government and also worked for a time with the National Park Service. She understands how government works and, more importantly, that “the public deserves to be able to ask how their tax dollars are serving them.”

To that end, she says she’ll do her homework on spending proposals and demand accountability measures before signing off on them. The commission needs a member to challenge questionable spending.

Her first priorities would include taking stock of how the county has spent the 7-year-old tax meant to support behavioral health programs and begin making any necessary tweaks to ensure it is going to the most effective programs.

Baca envisions a joint community safety department that would have “law enforcement and behavioral health specialists working hand in hand to address some of the issues with our homeless population.”

She’s also an advocate for a joint city/county emergency dispatch center to improve response times.

We think she has the experience, fiscal prudence and temperament to be a voice of reason on the Bernalillo County Commission.

Baca faces Republican Michaela Chavez to succeed Debbie O’Malley in representing a commission district that extends from the North Valley to the county’s western border. O’Malley cannot seek reelection due to term limits.

Bernalillo County Commission, District 5

Democrat Eric Olivas

Eric Olivas

At 31, Albuquerque native Eric Olivas already has a variety of experiences that should serve him well as a Bernalillo County commissioner. He has an impressive record of public service, just not in an elected role.

With a master’s degree in biology, he’s conducted field research on drought impacts. He knows how to evaluate data to make decisions. But he’s also a job creator with a small five-employee landscaping and plumbing business, and he’s served on the Northeast Community Policing Council and on the Civilian Police Oversight Board, as well as being president of his Quigley Park neighborhood association.

His priority is tackling the behavioral health crisis and crime, which he says are intertwined. In addition to hiring more deputies, corrections staff and crisis care staff, Olivas has suggested consolidating the county and city behavioral health activities into a single authority that would jointly manage all behavioral health programs and funds, and “ensure that all oars row in the same direction.” Similarly, the county could do more to partner with the city to combat crime, he said. Focusing on crime is the best way to improve the economy, he added.

We think voters should give this self-described “bridge builder” and independent thinker a shot.

Olivas defeated incumbent Charlene Pyskoty in the Democratic primary and faces Republican Judy Young for the commission’s District 5 seat, which comprises much of east central Albuquerque, including the Uptown area and Four Hills, as well as all of the East Mountains area of Bernalillo County.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Home » 2022 election » Editorial: Pacheco for sheriff, Baca and Olivas for BernCo Commission

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