After an extra long campaign season in Albuquerque, voters gave Democrat Tim Keller a big win in last night’s runoff mayoral election against Republican Dan Lewis. Keller said the high voter turnout and decisive victory constitutes a mandate.
The stage was crowded with supporters, and the audience was packed in wall-to-wall, too, as Tim Keller made his victory speech. "I am grateful for the opportunity to represent all of Albuquerque as your next mayor," he said.
Crime was far and away the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds this campaign cycle, according to polls. Keller said after his speech that Dec. 1—that’s day one on the job—it’s the first issue he’s going to start working on. And that means jump-starting a stagnating police reform process. "I got to find the right folks to help me deal with that," Keller said, "and then we’re going to take responsibility for finishing those reforms and hopefully winding up that agreement."
Lan Sena volunteered for the campaign, knocking on doors, and said for her, this election really hit home. "The Asian Americans really supported him and his push for language-accessible services, to highlight not just our unique issues," she said, "but all of minorities throughout our community, and to also really unite us."
Christopher Sedillo is a Navy veteran. He was also a candidate for City Council this year and lost. But he turned up at the party to cheer for the new mayor. Sedillo says he’s especially concerned about homelessness in the city. "By taking care of the most in-need in the city, we will prosper, everybody will prosper better," Sedillo said. "He will take care of some of the root problems of homelessness, and he will prioritize where we need in the most."
So what about the homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk just a block or so from the upscale hotel watch party? Keller said it’s not right for folks to be forced to sit out on the streets, and the city has to reach out to homeless people and bring them the services they need wherever they’re at.
Casey Padilla is the president AFSCME Chapter 18, the city employees' union. "Basically most employees are bandaging our city’s facilities," he said, and the city government has cut a lot of positions. "Well, I’m hoping that we have a seat at the table, where we’re able to talk and discuss the issues we have, more of an open-door policy."
Morale is low, he said, and he’ll be looking for the new mayor to hear employees out.