Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Chávez Can Run for 3rd in a Row
By Scott Sandlin and Dan McKay
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writers
Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez can run for a third consecutive term if he wishes, based on a state court judge's ruling Monday.
Judge Linda Vanzi found unconstitutional the City Charter provision that says an individual is ineligible to run after two consecutive terms. Vanzi said the provision conflicts with the New Mexico Constitution, which pre-empts a home rule municipality's power to adopt additional qualifications for elected office beyond those in the state constitution.
And, besides, the two sides didn't really disagree.
Chávez filed suit Jan. 3 against the city and acting City Clerk Randy Autio, whom he had appointed to the job, asking the court to rule on the term-limit question.
Term limits for city councilors were struck down following a 1995 challenge by former councilors Vince Griego, Alan Armijo, Steve Gallegos and Marion Cottrell. That case was decided by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court declined to review the ruling.
"I'm pleased," Chávez said Monday in an interview. "It brings clarity to the landscape, and I've had a lot of folks encouraging me to seek an additional term."
The petition by Chávez lawyers David Berlin and David Duhigg said the term limit provision is "an impermissible impingement on and deprivation of petitioner Chávez' constitutional right to seek elective office."
The city, represented by contract lawyers Joseph Goldberg, Theresa Duncan and Michael Goldberg, reached the same conclusion.
"Respondents believe that the mayor term limits provision of the Albuquerque City Charter is inconsistent with the qualifications clause of the New Mexico Constitution ... and as such is unconstitutional," the city response says.
The city notes that "presumably the petitioner (Chávez) is contemplating seeking reelection as mayor of the city of Albuquerque."
But Chávez isn't saying whether he plans to run next year.
"I'm very pleased with the direction the city is headed in, but that's a very large decision," he said.
Chávez served as mayor from 1993 to 1997 and since 2001. He is the first Albuquerque mayor to have served two consecutive four-year terms since the City Charter was established in 1974.
The 2009 election will be the first in which mayoral candidates can get public financing for their campaigns.
City Councilors Michael Cadigan, Sally Mayer and Ken Sanchez are thought to be interested in a run for mayor, along with former first lady Margaret Aragon de Chávez and former state Sen. Richard Romero.
Aragon de Chávez and the mayor divorced in 2004.