Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Berry Names His Top Picks
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
Mayor-elect Richard Berry plans to fill two of the top posts at City Hall with veterans of local government and politics Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and former City Attorney David Campbell.
Berry announced Tuesday that he intends to appoint Campbell, a Democrat and business leader, as chief administrative officer. The CAO is the top executive under the mayor and handles the daily operations of government.
The appointment must go to city councilors for approval.
Berry plans to tap White, an outspoken proponent for tougher penalties who does not shy away from publicity, to lead the Public Safety Deaprtment. A Republican, White ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year. He is a former police officer who later led the state Department of Public Safety. He also hosts a weekly radio show.
As the city's public safety director, he will oversee the police and fire departments and other emergency functions, replacing Pete Dinelli.
White has been sheriff since 2003, and was precluded by law from running for re-election when his second term ended in November 2010. The County Commission will name a replacement to finish out his term.
Berry said Campbell and White would make "good, pragmatic decisions" for City Hall.
"I picked people who love this city and are very, very good at what they do," Berry told reporters on Civic Plaza.
Some city councilors, however, weren't enthusiastic.
Councilor Brad Winter, a Northeast Heights Republican, said he isn't sure Campbell will win enough votes for confirmation. He said he's concerned about Campbell's background as a land-use attorney who's contested city zoning decisions.
"I think the CAO is very important," Winter said, "because that's who the council works with. I think (the announcement) is a little premature. I think a lot of the councilors are very concerned about it."
It's not clear whether the public-safety director would also require council approve. The City Charter says the council has advise and consent authority over the city attorney, CAO and "senior administrative or cabinet-level officers."
Berry said he wanted to move quickly to ensure his team was ready to get to work immediately. He takes office Dec. 1. Berry, a Republican, defeated three-term incumbent Martin Chávez, a Democrat, last week.
Campbell is no stranger to City Hall. He was city attorney for Mayor Louis Saavedra from 1989-93 and as an assistant to Mayor Harry Kinney from 1981-83.
He is a prominent land-use attorney who often testifies before the City Council on zoning cases. He has served on the boards of the Economic Forum; NAIOP, the main local commercial real-estate group; and the United Way of Central New Mexico.
Campbell also has a background in "good government" efforts through work with Common Cause and task forces on merging city and county governments.
He was planning to leave Albuquerque later this month to serve overseas as a diplomat for the State Department.
But "Mr. Berry is a very persuasive man," Campbell said. "I was enthused and excited to join his administration and work for Albuquerque once again."
Campbell has worked with different chief administrative officers and says he received good "mentoring" from them. He would replace the current CAO, Ed Adams.
White, meanwhile, is no stranger to local voters. He has won the Bernalillo County Sheriff's office twice and lost a bid last year for the 1st Congressional District seat.
During the mayoral campaign, Berry repeatedly said Albuquerque police needed more leeway to check the immigration status of suspects. He said he would model his policy on the one used by the county Sheriff's Office.
White also endorsed Berry's campaign in the closing days before the election.
City Councilor Debbie O'Malley said she wished Berry had spent more time talking to councilors before picking Campbell.
Berry also named some members of his transition team: state Rep. Larry Larrañaga; White; Demesia Padilla, a certified public accountant; Alex Romero, who heads the Hispano Chamber of Commerce; John Garcia, a former state cabinet secretary for economic development and tourism; and Terri Cole of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. He has named Sherman McCorkle, president of Technology Ventures Corporation to lead his transition team.