2 more candidates plunge into ABQ mayor’s race

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two new candidates – City Councilor Dan Lewis and retired police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes – plunged into the race to succeed Mayor Richard Berry with separate announcements on Sunday in front of family, friends and supporters.

Michelle Garcia Holmes, a retired police detective, announces her run for mayor Sunday in front of supporters at the Albuquerque Country Club. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

Michelle Garcia Holmes, a retired police detective, announces her run for mayor Sunday in front of supporters at the Albuquerque Country Club. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

Lewis is the first Republican in the race. Garcia Holmes is an independent.

They join Democrats Deanna Archuleta, a former Bernalillo County commissioner and first candidate to enter the race, and Stella Padilla, a retired Old Town resident.

More candidates are expected to announce their campaigns later this month, and other candidates could emerge throughout the spring. Election Day is Oct. 3.

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Lewis, a two-term city councilor from the West Side, addressed an audience of about 200 people on Sunday, gathered at Fat Pipe ABQ, an incubator for technology businesses in the old Albuquerque High School. His campaign said he has already raised over $100,000.

The city police department needs new leadership, Lewis said, and it should be combined with other public-safety agencies that work in Bernalillo County to improve response times. Albuquerque’s police force, he said, should be expanded to 1,200 officers, an increase of 42 percent over the roughly 850 officers now on staff.

City Councilor Dan Lewis announces his campaign for myaor during an event inside the old Albuquerque High School on Sunday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

City Councilor Dan Lewis announces his campaign for myaor during an event inside the old Albuquerque High School on Sunday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

“Albuquerque is facing some of its most trying times,” Lewis said. “We have a crisis in public safety, high-crime rates, low economic growth, failing schools and a crisis of confidence in elected officials. It’s time to address these changes with bold solutions.”

Steve Smothermon, senior pastor at Legacy Church, led the opening prayer at Lewis’ announcement, and another speaker highlighted Lewis’ own work as a pastor and as founder of Soul Rio Church.

Garcia Holmes, who served as chief of staff to former Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat, told about 60 supporters gathered at the Albuquerque Country Club that she has dedicated much of her life to public safety, starting as an APD officer patrolling the streets at age 22.

She highlighted her own background as particularly well-suited to Albuquerque’s nonpartisan system of government: she’s not registered with a political party.

“I will be the leadership that rises above partisan politics,” Garcia Holmes said. “To face our challenges, we must all work together.”

She said she supports building a multipurpose arena in Albuquerque and a shelter for young people facing homelessness.

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Garcia Holmes had asked supporters to bring canned food to her announcement for donation to the homeless. Jeremy Reynalds, founder of the Joy Junction ministry and homeless shelter, opened the event with a prayer, and Garcia Holmes later thanked her community at Calvary Church.

Wide field taking shape

This year’s race is the first mayoral campaign in 20 years without an incumbent on the ballot. Berry, a Republican, has said repeatedly that he won’t seek re-election to a third term.

Stella Padilla

Stella Padilla

The race is nonpartisan, meaning party affiliation won’t appear on the ballot and there will be no primary election to narrow the field. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in October, a runoff election will be held in November with the top two vote-getters.

Plenty of candidates are considering a run or are already in.

Archuleta, the former county commissioner, announced her campaign in May, vowing to make economic development and business growth a centerpiece of her campaign.

Deanna Archuleta

Deanna Archuleta

Attorney Brian Colón, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, and State Auditor Tim Keller, also a Democrat, plan to announce campaigns this month.

City Councilor Ken Sanchez, a Democrat, is considering a run.

Pete Dinelli, also a Democrat, says he is likely to run again, following unsuccessful mayoral campaigns in 1989 and 2013. He’s a former chief public safety officer at City Hall and a former city councilor.

Republican Wayne Johnson, a member of the County Commission, and Susan Wheeler-Deichsel, an independent and co-founder of the civic group Urban ABQ, are planning announcements.

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