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City Council votes not to hold mid-December mail-in election

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque city councilors aren’t ready just yet to call a special election on three questions that didn’t make the Nov. 4 ballot.

Late Monday, they killed the idea of a mid-December mail-in election – at the request of the councilor who sponsored the idea, Ken Sanchez.

Sanchez, the council president, said he floated the idea only as a discussion item because holding a special election this year might help avoid the cost of multiple special elections down the road.

That’s because one of the questions the council wants to send to voters would change the rules for petition drives, which often require the city to hold special elections if supporters gather enough signatures. The council wants to allow legislation brought via petition to go on the next regularly scheduled election ballot, rather than requiring an immediate special election.

Regardless, Sanchez said, it’s better to wait, for now, and see whether voters change the state constitution this fall to allow the city to put municipal ballot items before voters during school-board elections. Albuquerque Public Schools has an election scheduled for February.

That would allow the city to get its questions to voters fairly quickly, Sanchez said.

“We’re trying to avoid special elections,” Sanchez said Monday. “I just think the cost at this time is too high.”

The council and mayor have at least three ballot measures they want to put before voters: proposals to give the council approval authority over the hiring of a police chief, to authorize the sale of $6.5 million in bonds for redevelopment projects and to make changes to the petition process.

In other action Monday, the City Council:

• Adopted a resolution directing the city attorney to drop a lawsuit that alleges three union groups owe taxpayers more than $927,000 because their top officers drew city pay while handling union business, a practice known as “union time.”

The bill, sponsored by Diane Gibson, was approved on a 5-4 vote along party lines, with Democrats in the majority. It now goes to Mayor Richard Berry, a Republican, and, if he vetoes it, the council would need six votes to override.

• Deadlocked on a resolution that says the city doesn’t support the proposed settlement agreement Public Service Company of New Mexico has reached with some parties involved in the regulatory debate over the future of the San Juan Generating Station. A motion to pass the resolution failed on a 4-4 vote.

The resolution cited environmental and other concerns about the proposed settlement.