New Mexico First Blog

Mayoral town hall debate produces thoughtful, issue-based public safety questions

KOB Town Hall and Debate

Public safety is a major concern in Albuquerque as crime has increased drastically over the past three years. New Mexico First and KOB hosted a town hall debate with Albuquerque's mayoral candidates on Friday, September 15 on public safety. Candidates answered questions that were formulated by public consensus earlier in the day at four separate community centers throughout the city. Participants were asked to read background information on public safety to help develop thoughtful, issue-based questions as a means for yielding an informative and fair mayoral candidate debate. Together, they agreed on the public safety questions that they wanted the mayoral candidates to address. There was not enough time to address all the questions that were developed at the town hall, so the full list is posted below. We hope the candidates find ways to address the questions before election day.


Ricardo Chaves
Brian Colón
Michelle Garcia Holmes
Wayne Johnson
Timothy Keller
Dan Lewis
Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty
Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

Participant Questions

Topic Context Question
Administration There are many public safety concerns facing the City of Albuquerque Given the limited resources available, which one of these would you identify as your top priority: funding mental health and addiction treatment programs, hiring more police officers, or improving community relations with the existing police force?
Behavioral Health Senate Memorial 45 authorizes legal injection sites and prescription heroin clinics. It passed State Senate unanimously in 2011. What, if anything, would you do to implement Senate Memorial 45?
Behavioral Health Currently there is a revolving door of offenders with addiction and other mental health issues in and out of jail. The current system is not working. What would you do to address the underlying addiction and mental health issues?
Behavioral Health It seems the city isn't working enough with other agencies to improve mental health. How can the city, county and other entities work TOGETHER to expand and improve access to behavior and mental health?
Behavioral Health Several of our table members work in the addiction and behavior health fields and have professional and personal experience with these issues. We know that the opioid epidemic and increased drug use is tied to rising crime rates in Albuquerque. What are your plans to address this issue?
Behavioral Health Several of our table members work in behavioral health and addiction recovery fields and have personal and professional experience with behavioral health and addiction issues. Diversion programs work to reduce crime and have better long term outcomes for individuals and the community. How do you plan to increase access to diversion programs and other treatment options?
Behavioral Health There have been incidents of excessive force in confronting people with mental illness. What would you do to ensure that every single police officer is trained to deal with mental health issues, including addiction?
Campaign Issues Community trust is reflected by political participation. Political parties provide a known brand for their candidates. Party primaries can reduce the total number of candidates on the ballot. Would civic engagement be increased if candidates explicitly represented a political party rather than city elections being non partisan?
Community Issues If a neighborhood looks shoddy, for example with lots of abandoned buildings and vehicles, citizens may feel unsafe. If you were elected mayor, how will you ensure that neighborhoods look and feel safe, and how will you measure success?
Community Issues In light of recent developments with regard to immigration policy What is your opinion of sanctuary cities in the context of contributing to community trust?
Community Issues A sense of community and pride in one’s neighborhood can have a positive effect on crime prevention. How do you plan to engage those residents that want to be a voice for change and measurable results in their neighborhood and what tools would you provide them?
Community Issues No man is an island, and it takes many people and organizations to work together and improve public safety. How will you as mayor encourage collaborative partnerships to improve public safety?
Community Issues At our table, we talked about the fact that some communities and minorities may not have the same opportunities to succeed. Give us one specific example of how you plan to bridge the cultural and racial divide in Albuquerque?
Community Issues There appears to us to be an lack of adequate communication and coordination between the school system and the office of the mayor. Both entities influence our city's future. How would you, if elected, increase cooperation between the school district and the mayor's office?
Community Safety Some Albuquerque neighborhoods experience far higher crime rates than others. We are particularly concerned about the fact that people in these neighborhoods do not feel personally safe. Setting aside more policing, what other strategies would you champion to support people in unsafe neighborhoods? AND what would be your timeline for advancing these reforms?
Crime Prevention Throwing money at problems isn't working. APD's bigger budget hasn’t helped. What do you believe are the systemic causes to crime and how will you address them?
Economic Development A lack of education and low income are often cited as root causes of crime. These factors may also prevent economic growth of the city. If you are elected mayor, how will you improve education and employment opportunities?
Economic Development I am 22 years old, I see friends and young people leave... and I want to see people stay & have a reason to stay. How will you attract young people to live in Albuquerque... but more importantly keep the youth HERE from leaving?
Administration Many of us didn’t realize a state of the city presentation by the mayor is required according to the city charter and we would like to watch this and know more. Given that accountability using measurable goals is key to tracking the progress of our city, how would you allow your constituents to hold you accountable on a quarterly basis for the results of your administration?
Government Relations Want city and county to better utilize mutual resources. What steps would you take to build better working relationships between the city and Bernalillo county?
Gun Safety We had several parents at our table. We were concerns about preventing unintentional shootings among children and teens. We also know that firearms are a top item for household theft. If elected, what would be your position on secure storage of firearms in homes?
Gun Safety Law Enforcement, Gun Control, Possession of unauthorized guns How would you work with the city council to reduce gun violence in our city and unauthorized possession of guns?
Homelessness On a daily basis, whether personal or professional, I can't go a block without coming across a homeless person or a panhandler. In addition to the “there’s a better way program,” what other programs do you plan to bring to the table as mayor to address the root problems of people experiencing homelessness i.e., addiction, mental health, housing?
Law Enforcement There are a lot of claims to improve APD. Give us specifics. How will you scout for a new Police Chief? What qualifications will you be looking for? What’s working in other cities?
Policing Our group talked about many situations where police were needed, but could not arrive until too late or not at all. We believe this is because more police are needed in our city. However, we also need police who are able to identify and respond to situations appropriately for citizens regardless of zipcode, race, mental health and gender. In light of these issues, and the recent increase of criminal activity, what is your plan to bring in officers who highly trained to be both culturally sensitive and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations?
Policing Due to a negative perception of APD across the city, we worry a distrust for police begins with interactions between officers and our young people. Our poorest and most disadvantaged neighborhoods often receive police attention only for the “worst” possible reasons. As mayor, what will you do to encourage off-duty or proactive police presence that reminds us officers are “good guys?”
Policing Training and Competency What would you consider the main factors and goals for a quality training program that would produce a police officer with good balance of an enforcer of the law and caring public servant in our community?
Policing The mayor need to involve the community with the police department to increase a trust relationship. What would you do as a mayor to establish a better relationship of mutual support and respect between the community and police officers?
Policing neighborhood lacks police/resident relationship.. sense of community First, what does community policing mean to you? And how will that factor in to how you choose a new police chief?
Policing Previous administrations including this one have said we're going to bring in more officers... and here we are... we still need officers. We all know the city needs more officers - *where are you going to find them? And *how are you going to keep them here? Be as specific as possible.
Policing With such a thinly staffed police department, officers seldom have a moment to catch their breath during long shifts and we worry poor behavior, attitude and work ethic could be strongly influenced by exhaustion, which can also lead to injury or mistakes on the job. As mayor, even “before achieving full staffing at APD, how will you address officer fatigue in the field?
Policy The data shows that we have above-average crime rate in comparison to nationwide trends. Given limited resources, can you identify 1 key policy that, as mayor, you would pursue to create a safer city and how would you implement that?
Theft Albuquerque has incredibly high amounts of auto theft. Members of our group want to feel like they can park their cars anywhere without fear of their belongings or the car itself being stolen.
As mayor, what would be your solution to decreasing auto theft?
Transportation The ART System along Central Avenue will be completed in the first term of the next mayor. The public perception is that crime is concentrated along Central Avenue. What is your plan for making the ART System and the Central Avenue Corridor feel safe for citizens?
Youth A couple years, ago, a young person who was experiencing homelessness was caught with a gun at a middle school. I asked why he brought the gun. He was homeless, and slept outside and it was his only way of protecting himself. What are you going to do as mayor to provide the tools, i.e., after school programs, adult literacy, etc. to empower marginalized communities to break the cycle of generational poverty and hopelessness?

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Anonymous Commented on 18-Sep-2017 11:20 AM

In the arena of 22 cars per day stolen in Albuquerque, I wonder if unmanned aerial vehicles would provide police with the ability to make the chase through residential neighborhoods, in order to apprehend the organized criminals committing these thefts. I think they can, and will. It is only a matter of time before this happens.

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