This story is a staff report from The Paper.

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Every four years, it seems, “the future” of our city hangs in the balance when voters are asked to choose Albuquerque’s mayor. The direction we go in depends on whom we vote into office. The Paper. asked incumbent mayor Time Keller, challenger/talk show host Eddie Aragon and write-in candidate Patrick Sais to explain solutions to issues in our city in their own words. We have included their full responses, with very little editing. Manny Gonzales was the only candidate who chose not to respond to our questions.

The Paper.: Please introduce yourselves.

Tim Keller (incumbent): Four years ago, I was elected Mayor of Albuquerque because voters trusted me to face our toughest challenges head-on. And we’ve done that. We’ve built a strong foundation to reduce crime, homelessness, added better-paying jobs, and kept our families and kids safe and engaged. And there’s much more work we must do. When COVID hit, we knew we had to act quickly to save lives and livelihoods. Today, I’m committed to leading a recovery that will help Albuquerque come out of this pandemic stronger.

Eddie Aragon: I am a former commercial real estate broker, current business owner, father, and eleventh-generation New Mexican. I have a no-nonsense attitude and an unmatched work ethic. These characteristics are what spurred me to run for mayor. I love this city, my family has a deep history here, and my children will continue our lineage in this state. But our city needs help, and having a lifelong resident with a vision and a drive to put in the work is exactly what’s needed to move us forward.

Patrick Sais (write-in): Hi, I’m Patrick B Sais and I’m running for mayor of Albuquerque. I’m a small business owner, retired truck driver owner/operator, I come from a family with deep roots in NM, I’m running for mayor because I stand with law and order, i will always support and never defund our police. I will bring back trade program’s, mental health programs and I want to work with everyone to make Albuquerque a safer place for are kids and family together we can move forward to make Albuquerque a better and safer place.

What are the root causes of crime in Albuquerque and how would you address them?

Keller: Addiction, generational poverty, the lack of economic opportunities, disparities in education, and the breakdown of families all play a role in crime today. Providing support to youth and families is important when addressing root causes. We’ve built up violence intervention and diversion programs and with our One ABQ Youth Connect initiative, we’re providing more opportunities for tens of thousands of kids and disrupting inter-generational cycles of violence that persist in Albuquerque.

Aragon: Poor leadership. You can’t fight more crime with the same number of officers, and you can’t expect people to obey laws if the mayor thinks criminality is a race problem. Morale is up among criminals and down among police officers. I will immediately reallocate $50 million from wasted political projects (like the Office of Equity and Inclusion) and increase APD salaries. Then RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT. Without boots on the ground, there is no check on criminal behavior.

Sais: Laws need to be changed to keep and stop the repeat offenders that have a substance abuse and continue breaking the laws and hurt our community. Stop the repeat offenders from taking advantage of the weak laws that keep allowing them to use the revolving door. By trying to get the laws changed and keeping them in jail keep Albuquerque safe.

What is your plan to end homelessness in Albuquerque?

Keller: The Gateway Center is the city’s largest capital investment addressing homelessness in our history. It’s central to our commitment to create an integrated system from shelter, to vouchers to mental health services. In Phase I, it’s slated to serve 25 families and 100 individuals as they transition from the streets to a stable life. We have also supported over 600 units of affordable housing and will continue to fund nearly $20M in housing assistance and outreach services for the unsheltered.

Aragon: I’m proposing a temporary (30 day) encampment to track our homeless. From there, we triage them on an individual basis: If they have mental problems, give care and transport to a facility immediately (we have plenty). If it’s drug related, give care and transport to jail immediately. If it’s economic, give care and transport to shelter immediately. If they refuse help, transport them out of the city.

Sais: We need to get them the help they need. There are different types of homelessness. there’s the one fell short on their luck and still have a job and need help getting their family in a home. There’s homeless that need mental heath assistance and we need to create better programs for what they need. the homeless that are addicted to alcohol or drugs should be placed in a mandatory rehab for now less than 6 months or until they have get the help they need.

How would you increase meaningful public participation in city decision-making processes?

Keller: We have engaged the public on most major projects, including the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, hiring the police chief, appointing a City Councilor, the Gateway Center, mobile speed enforcement, 4-H Park, and the Race, History and Healing project. We have created a culture of listening, learning, and acting. I am committed to continuing and improving the public process on major decisions that impact our neighborhoods and community.

Aragon: I’ll become mayor and give everyone my phone number–which is 505-550-5500–and tell them to call me. One-on-on with the mayor is about as meaningful as it gets.

Sais: we go out and talk to people and hear what they have to say. I believe one brain doesn’t know everything it takes all of us working together to move our city forward.

What tangible policies will you implement to limit the city’s impact on the climate?

Keller: As Mayor, I set an ambitious goal to move Albuquerque forward using 100% renewable energy by just 2030—which we’ll meet. ​​We are now #3 for solar energy in the U.S. We’ve built 29 of the City’s 38 solar sites. We updated the city’s Climate Action Plan, specifying 50 different strategies to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re also converting our entire fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles, and instituted the 2019 Green building codes as part of an aggressive plan to tackle the climate crisis.

Aragon: Climate change is political theater. Albuquerque has real problems to worry about. None. The answer is none.

Sais: When the world stops polluting more than America and does something mother earth will heal its self by not implementing artificial help that destroys our landscapes.

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This story is a staff report from The Paper.

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