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Wheeler-Deichsel enters race for Albuquerque mayor

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel said she didn’t imagine in 2008 that her effort to improve the quality and selection of her nearby Downtown grocery store would lead to her announcing her candidacy Thursday in Albuquerque’s crowded mayoral race.

Susan Wheel-Deichsel stands with supporters at Civic Plaza to announce her candidacy in Albuquerque's mayoral race.

Susan Wheel-Deichsel stands with supporters at Civic Plaza to announce her candidacy in Albuquerque’s mayoral race.

 

 

Wheeler-Deichsel is one of 14 candidates who registered with the city clerk’s office to run for mayor on Thursday – the first day of a 10-week qualifying period.

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Candidates now have until April 28 to gather the signatures of 3,000 register

ed city voters to earn a place on the Oct. 3 ballot.

Wheeler-Deichsel’s two-year effort to transform a Lowe’s store at 11th and Lomas NW into an upscale boutique grocery market, which included the controversial step of adding a liquor license, taught her the pitfalls and rewards of infill development.

“People love that grocery store and it really brought the neighborhood up a notch,” said Wheeler-Deichsel, who convinced the owner, the Western grocery store chain, to invest $5.5 million in the project.

“I found out what neighborhood pushback was all about,” she said. “It became the neighborhood scandal. Boy, did I learn a lot.”

Wheeler-Deichsel, 65, said during her candidacy announcement Thursday in Civic Plaza that infill development centered on mass transportation will help Albuquerque develop a vibrant Downtown. She strongly supports the $119 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, which will create a nine-mile network of bus-only lanes and bus stations in the middle of Central Avenue.

Wheeler-Deichsel said the project will bring large private investors to Albuquerque for mixed-use business and residential development along the Central Avenue corridor.

The candidate is a self-employed co-founder of the civic group Urban ABQ. She will run as an independent candidate.

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“I don’t care what party somebody belongs to,” she said. “I’m here to problem-solve and represent the entire residential community of the city.”

Wheeler-Deichsel also said the city also needs to move more quickly to fulfill the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the Albuquerque Police Department, which requires a host of reforms, including police training and revising use-of-force policies.

She said the settlement “is not moving forward in the way it really should be. It’s very slow. We’re really behind.”

She added that she would appoint a replacement for Albuquerque police Chief Gorden Eden.

Albuquerque reached the settlement agreement in 2014 after the DOJ investigated APD, whose officers had shot more than 40 people since 2010.

Wheeler-Deichsel is one of 10 candidates who will attempt to qualify for public campaign financing, according to the city clerk’s website.

Those candidates must gather contributions of $5 each from 3,802 registered voters by March 31.

Other candidates seeking public financing include: talk radio host Eddy Aragon, an independent; Elan Colello, a Democrat and CEO of a virtual reality company; Lamont Davis; retired police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes, an independent; Rachel Golden; state Auditor Tim Keller, a Democrat; Scott Madison, a Democrat who works with the nuclear weapons program at Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories; Old Town resident Stella Padilla, a Democrat; and Gus Pedrotty.

Candidates who plan to run privately financed campaigns are: former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta, a Democrat; Brian Colón, former chairman of the state Democratic Party; Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, a Republican; and Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, a Republican.

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