A Comprehensive Approach to Public Safety and Homelessness
I was appointed to, and served for three years, on the Civilian Police Oversight Board for the Albuquerque Police Department, including being elected by my colleagues to serve as the Board Chair. Prior to serving on the Police Oversight Board, I served for three years as Chair of the Citizens Policing Council for the Northeast Area of Albuquerque. I went on numerous ride-alongs with police officers and have an understanding of the complex issues at play in keeping our communities safer.
The current county commissioner has been missing in action as crime has exploded in Bernalillo County. In perhaps the most glaring example, the voters of Bernalillo County approved a behavioral health tax in 2015 to address issues in Bernalillo County involving mental health and substance abuse, leading contributors to crime and homelessness. The current county commission, under the leadership of my opponent, has left many of these funds unspent, instead commissioning studies and reports while our community suffers. The results of those studies highlight key deficiencies in our systems, yet my opponent has failed to take meaningful action to make the changes necessary.
Crime, behavioral health, and substance abuse are all in crisis mode in our county, here is what I will do about it:
Increase funding to hire more Sheriff's Deputies, with 50% of new hires dedicated to a new Albuquerque command focused on areas where APD lacks staff, such as Child Abuse Investigations, Traffic, Narcotics, and Property Crime.
Create better partnerships between the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to focus joint resources in high-crime areas.
Increase staffing at the Metropolitan Detention Center by increasing pay and benefits to compete with other law enforcement agencies in the area.
Expand resources for training on de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention for Sheriff's Deputies
Use the County Commission’s power of appropriations to ensure accountability and transparency within the Sheriff's Department, including expanding the role of the Sheriff's Office Advisory and Review Board.
Collaborate with the City of Albuquerque and the State to create a Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Authority, similar to the joint City/County Water Authority, to jointly manage all behavioral health programs and funds. The City and County currently waste money and sacrifice efficiency on overlapping and competing projects. This effort will ensure that all oars row in the same direction.
Use an ‘all the above’ approach to address homelessness, including low-barrier transition housing projects that can help to wean individuals from addiction over time, while ensuring that neighborhoods have a say in these projects.
Fund and support additional triage/crisis care teams to act as an alternative to Sheriff's Deputies and/or Fire Rescue response on certain types of calls, in partnership with the city’s new Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) Department. These units, with social workers among them, would respond to calls on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Homelessness issues. This is a more cost effective response and gets the right resources at the right time to those in crisis.
A Strong Local Economy and Supporting Working People
As a local small business owner and a laborer, I know the value of workers and hard work. Too often, government procurement and incentive policies written by our County Commission do not benefit our community. We need incentives and economic development policies that favor innovative and sustainable development. Local government like the Bernalillo County Commission should work to ensure that we provide supports and a positive business environment to businesses that bring good-paying jobs to the region. We must focus particular attention to infill development that invests in our existing strengths as a community while encouraging sustainable growth.
My opponent has not been a consistent advocate for smart economic development policies. I will be a reasonable and consistent voice for good economic policy on the Bernalillo County commission. The commission has an important role in advocating for workers while also respecting the the rights and needs of private land owners.
As a County Commissioner, I will:
Support small-businesses and the local creative economy by directing more economic development incentives to small-businesses looking to expand. We must expand apprenticeships and worker training programs while supporting entrepreneurs through business incubators with partnerships between businesses, non-profits, and government.
Pay the prevailing wage for all county employees and county contractors on all county projects, not just large ones, to level the playing field for small businesses. I will also always support union jobs. My opponent watered down project labor provisions in the current ordinance that would have required major county contractors to pay decent wages and benefits.
Promote the local/regional outdoor recreation economy to expand tourism and use of the beautiful natural resources in and around Bernalillo County.
Protect Our Natural Resources and Invest in New Infrastructure
As a biologist and a lifelong New Mexican, I know the value of clean air, clean water and vibrant public lands here in Bernalillo County. The County holds some of the best tracts of public land in the metro area. I will work to increase the number of acquisitions of open space, and ensure that these spaces are equitably distributed for all to enjoy.
Water is and always will be a critical issue in our community and the county commission must work with ABCWUA and the City of Albuquerque to incentivize smart development, increase conservation efforts, and extend the water authority distribution network further into the East Mountains to serve communities and households as wells run dry. The County Commission must also make the fight on climate change front-and-center in policy decisions to ensure a clean and healthy environment for generations to come.
As County Commissioner, I will:
Increase funding for wetlands restoration, forest thinning, and toxic waste remediation throughout Bernalillo County. The cost to the health of our community and tax dollars to rebuild is far greater than proactive efforts to save lives and property.
Deploy rooftop solar to more county-owned buildings and increase the use of electric vehicles in the county fleet. These measures will reduce harmful emissions while saving taxpayers money on fuel.