I’m committed to serving the needs of all of the diverse communities within District 5 from crime and homelessness issues in Albuquerque, to the infrastructure, broadband, water, and fire preparedness needs of our East Mountains communities.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my family’s property near Sedillo Hill. A well has never been feasible, so we haul water like many of our neighbors. Fire has been a perpetual concern especially in the spring and early summer when winds are relentless and rain is non-existent. Now as my dad builds a small cabin on our land we are confronting other issues like slow broadband speeds and a non-competitive market that leads to high costs and few alternatives.
Based on input I have received from East Mountain residents I have developed the following policy priorities. I’m committed to further developing these priorities in collaboration with all of our East Mountain communities, recognizing that what works in one neighborhood might not be appropriate in another.
Regardless of where you live Bernalillo County has a duty to keep residents safe, safety starts with keeping people informed and prepared:
Implement a state of the art messaging system (text push alerts, phone, email, and message boards) for the entire county to warn residents of threats like fires, floods, or active shooters. Recent events like the 66 fire in Carnuel and the Sedillo Hill police shooting have shown us that the county’s current system is not up to par.
Prepare residents for fires and other threats with more outreach events timed before our ever earlier fire season and practice mock evacuations with participating neighborhoods.
Use youth outreach in schools and after school programs to prepare young people and their families for emergency situations.
Test the emergency notification system often, collect data, and seek continuous improvement to make the system more reliable and more efficient.
Prevention of a catastrophic fire and its lasting effects is far more cost effective than waiting for a fire event and acting afterwards to clean up the damage. The human and economic toll of a large wildfire in Bernalillo County is incalculable. Bernalillo County must act now to grow its fire prevention efforts before it’s too late. We must:
Leverage federal and state grant funding and infrastructure money to prioritize investments in fire prevention.
Create an active fire prevention program to supplement passive programs like those offered by the SWCD. This program should have dedicated county staff from BCFR to hold outreach events and actively promote fire prevention programs and offer resources to residents, businesses, and property owners.
Use a “Firewise” coordinator to coordinate resources and outreach across the county and across county departments as well as between agencies like Soil and Water Conservation districts, BLM, US Forest Service, etc.
Expand the use of creative financing mechanisms such as property tax abatement to help property owners afford the cost of clearing/thinning.
Expand outreach and incentives to local businesses ie. landscapers, wood haulers, constructions companies etc to increase the pool of labor offering professional thinning services.
Make green waste drop-off free for county residents and make free chipper/shredder services available for the public at convenient locations and times.
Ensure an equitable distribution of resources for thinning/clearing with a focus on achieving landscape scale forest health and resiliency county-wide.
Improve coordination between the USFS, State Forestry, Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque, SWCD’s, non-profits, businesses, and residents to thin forests and achieve landscape-scale healthy forests.
Improved dead tree removal and weed control (mowing) on County property and rights of way. Excessive weeds become a fire hazard outside of the brief rainy season.
Coordinate with local utilities regarding their efforts to ensure power lines are fire safe.
Water is life, residents of our East Mountains communities from Carnuel to Sedillo Hill know that the effects of climate change are real and threaten our way of life. The state engineer has declared the Sandia Basin a “closed” due to overuse and minimal reliable recharge. We need a smart water policy that addresses the facts on the ground now, and the changing future ahead. I will:
Maximize the use of matching grants for water projects such as the Bureau of Reclamation “Water Smart” program.
Prioritize the development of a network of strategically placed fire hydrants throughout unincorporated Bernalillo County, water is a fire issue.
Make monitoring data easily accessible online for greater transparency and near real time continuous monitoring in county wells.
Expand water quality monitoring of private wells.
I will oppose the Campbell Ranch Development, Bernalillo County must use every lever of its power to stop this project. If it moves forward, existing water users in the Sandia and Estancia Basin will pay the price. We must prioritize existing residents in this rapidly aridifying basin.
Couple water planning with land use planning to ensure that water needs and water availability are addressed at the initial stages of development.
Disallow developments in the Sandia Basin with 20 or more lots that propose individual domestic wells or well shares.
Broadband and Infrastructure
Slow or non-existent broadband in the East Mountains is an economic development problem, exacerbating educational divides in our community, and leaving our rural communities disconnected from basic services. Roads, bridges, bike paths, trails, open space areas, and community centers also need investment in the East Mountains to improve safety and to foster economic development and vibrant communities. I will:
Work to foster competition in the Broadband market. Few providers in the East Mountain area mean low quality services at high prices.
Use federal infrastructure funds and state appropriations to prioritize development of high speed broadband and fiber optic lines in rural Bernalillo County.
Invest in schools, community centers, and open space areas in the East Mountains. These spaces benefit our community, our economy, and our future.
Collaborate with NMDOT and other local partners to prioritize repairs and rebuilding roads and bridges that are in dangerous condition in the East Mountains.
Work with state legislators and at the county level to acquire capital outlay and Federal funds for East Mountains projects such as bike trails, open space acquisitions, and an East Mountains public pool.