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Cadigan Starting Campaign Today

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
       Albuquerque's historic mayoral race — the first to offer public financing for candidates — opens in earnest today with the launch of Michael Cadigan's campaign.
    Cadigan, a Democrat and two-term city councilor from the West Side, says he intends to run as a fiscal watchdog who will keep a firm hand on spending.
    Incumbent Mayor Martin Chávez, who's won the office three times, hasn't said whether he will run.
    Cadigan will give up his council seat and participate in the city's voluntary system of public campaign financing.
    "The city is going to need a steady hand on the tiller in the next three or four years as we're going through this economic crisis," Cadigan said Monday in an interview. "I've been through seven budgets in lean years and fat times, and I've got the experience to make sure we get through it without breaking the bank."
    If elected, Cadigan said he would focus on water conservation, managing growth, community policing, Downtown redevelopment and basic city services.
    He was the architect of Albuquerque's smoking ban in restaurants, the bond proposal extending Paseo del Norte through the petroglyphs, the planned-growth strategy and other legislation. Cadigan has also been a strong supporter of the city's impact-fee system, which assesses higher charges to developments on the West Side and other places where sufficient roads and other infrastructure aren't already in place.
    Industry groups have vigorously criticized Cadigan's attempts to ban smoking and restrict tax-increment financing for development on the city fringes. Opponents have also complained about his aggressive questioning of city employees during council meetings.
    Budgeting may become the centerpiece of his campaign. Cadigan led efforts to kill construction of a reflecting pond at the Balloon Museum and has opposed the vinyl logo "wraps" on city vehicles.
    He sponsored a budget proposal this year as an alternative to the mayor's plan. Cadigan's passed without opposition.
    It slashed funding to the Balloon Museum to free up money for expanded bus service, more librarians and increased code-enforcement efforts. The mayor later said he would ignore some of the changes because they overstepped the council's authority and infringed on executive-branch functions. Chávez also said it would delay the opening of animal-shelter projects.
    Chávez has been the undisputed champ of recent mayoral campaigns. He's won election all three times he has sought the office — in 1993, 2001 and 2005.
    Cadigan and Chávez have teamed up on some initiatives, such as Paseo del Norte and other West Side road projects. They have clashed on the budget and growth management.
    It's not clear whether Chávez will run again, though many expect him to.
    Former state Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero has formed an exploratory committee to look at running. Also expressing interest are councilors Debbie O'Malley and Ken Sanchez; County Commission Chairman Alan Armijo; and the mayor's ex-wife, Margaret Aragon de Chávez.
    All are Democrats.
    Sheriff Darren White, a prominent Republican, told the Journal that he's not interested in running.
    Albuquerque elections are nonpartisan. The election is in October, but if no candidate gets at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff election in November.
    One wild card is public financing, approved by voters in 2005. Qualifying candidates would get about $1 per registered voter to spend on their campaigns, or about $328,000.
    Participants would have to get $5 contributions and petition signatures from a certain number of registered voters. That effort will start in mid-February.
    Cadigan supports the system.
    "It removes the undue influence" of special interests, he said.
    Cadigan, 41, lives near Coors and Paseo NW with his wife of 20 years, Traci, and two children. He has his own law firm, which focuses on commercial litigation.
    Cadigan will announce his plans this morning at Desert Paper & Envelope Co. on Girard NE.

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