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Candidates focus on crime in Bernalillo County Commission races

Bernalillo County

Candidates from each major party are running to fill the two available seats on the Bernalillo County Commission. Crime is the issue each of the would-be county commissioners says is most important.

District 1 encompasses the central part of the city from Interstate 40 all the way west onto the mesa. Republican candidate Michaela Chavez is a bookkeeper by trade. She told the Albuquerque Journal that her top priority would be to restore pride in Bernalillo County and that it is “overwhelmed with crime, drugs and homelessness.”

Chavez’s opponent, Democrat Barbara Baca, retired from the City of Albuquerque in 2014 and has a long resumé in different city departments, with the National Park Service and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District where she is a current board member. Her strategy to improve public safety is to foster collaboration across policing agencies.

Across the city is District 5, encompassing much of the Northeast Heights and the East Mountain communities where Republican Judy Young is taking on Democrat Eric Olivas.

Young takes more of a tough-on-crime approach to improving public safety. She said that her experience attending the Citizens’ Sheriff’s Academy in 2019 leads her to trust police to advise lawmakers on public safety issues.

Conversely, Democrat Olivas touts “a comprehensive approach” to reducing crime. He told the Albuquerque Journal that in addition to more police, “we need increased crisis triage beds, shelter capacity, and substance abuse treatment.”

County Commissions have powers similar to city councils, but on a county-wide scale. They also certify election results after votes are counted — notable because of rogue commissions such as Otero County, New Mexico that have threatened not to certify elections with outcomes they think are suspicious.

The Albuquerque Journal asked all four candidates if they would have certified the 2020 election results for Bernalillo County. The Democratic candidates said yes, Young said she would need more information before answering, and Chavez did not give an answer.
This report is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Kaveh Mowahed is a reporter with KUNM who follows government, public health and housing. Send story ideas to kaveh@kunm.org.
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