Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chávez Says ABQ Crime Rate "Unacceptably" High

On a hot summer day in Albuquerque the 2009 City Election is beginning to heat up. Mayor Martin J. Chávez announced at the Taylor Ranch Community Center today that he's joining a three-way race for the city's top elected office. He wants voters to give him an unprecedented fourth term and third straight.

Chávez told 770KKOB he's been an "activist mayor" and that his record demonstrates his vision of the future for the city. But, that record is under attack by two challengers, former New Mexico Senate President Pro-Tem Richard Romero, and current State Representative and local business owner Richard "RJ" Berry.

On Friday, the mayor said he believes crime is "unacceptably high," but public safety will continue to be his number one priority if he's re-elected October 6th.

Last week, Chávez announced that he's directed Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz to add another 100 police officers to the force, but Romero says that while he supports getting more cops on the street it smells like election year politics. Romero says only 42% of the city's current police officers work on the street.

Both Romero and Berry have said they're frustrated with the nearly 9% increase in property crimes year over year. Romero told reporters on Thursday that if he's elected he will replace Schultz.

According to FBI statistics released recently, property crime in Albuquerque has increased from 29,293 reports in 2007, to 31,907 in 2008, a nine percent increase in one year.

Mayoral Candidate Richard RJ Berry's Burned Out Truck
Was Recovered in the East Mountains

Berry proposed his own crime fighting plan after Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies recovered his stolen truck. On May 23rd he said:
We are in need of new solutions and new commitments if we are going to reduce property crime in Albuquerque. This is a quality of life issue. We need a Mayor who will take this head on and get results.
El Paso, whose population exceeds Albuquerque's by approximately 90,000 people, reported only 19,702 property crimes in 2008, or nearly 12,000 less crimes. And in Denver, a city with a population that exceeds Albuquerque's by approximately 70,000, the city saw a decreasing rate of property crime and reported only 19,316 crimes in 2008, once again far less than Albuquerque.

While the mayor prepares to announce in Taylor Ranch on Sunday afternoon, Romero is organizing around 100 volunteers to knock on doors.

While campaign election signs can't be planted in front yards, street corners, or on billboards until August 7th the election campaign has been underway for months and months. The mayor has already received several union endorsements including one from the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees Council 18. But as Marjorie Childress reported Local 624, the bluecollar workers, are not happy with the selection. They say AFSCME's endorsement doesn't represent their views.

All three candidates received public financing on April 1st. The first financial disclosure statements will be filed on Thursday, July 17th. The City Clerk, Randy Autio will draw the candidate's ballot position on Thursday, August 13th at 5:01pm.

Residents who want to vote in the city election have to register with the Bernalillo County Clerk's office by September 8th. The City of Albuquerque has posted all election deadline dates here.

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