Sunday, April 2, 2023

Albuquerque City Council Swings to the Right

Conservative Candidates Secure Majority of Open Seats


It was a good night for conservative City Council candidates who picked up seats and power on the council Tuesday night. There were five seats up for grabs with three open spots for the Westside, one for the NE Heights and one spot for the far SE Heights.

The winners will join incumbent Republicans Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones from the far Heights, and progressive Democrats Ike Benton from the North Valley and Downtown and Pat Davis from Nob Hill and the International District.

So far, the new council includes 4 Democrats (Isaac Benton, Pat Davis*, Klarissa Peña and newcomer Louie Sanchez) and 3 Republicans (Trudy Jones, Brook Bassan and Dan Lewis). Democrats are hoping the two runoff races will secure a solid 6-seat majority, but Republicans see a route to build a new majority on the 9-member body.

District 1 Central Westside

The winner: Louie Sanchez is a former Albuquerque Police officer who retired in 2014. After leaving the force, Sanchez became an insurance guy by setting up his own Allstate Agency. He has lived his entire life in District 1. He ran a conservative platform that was pro-law enforcement, tough on crime and pro-small business. Sanchez is a registered Democrat but rejected many of the party's most progressive platforms during the campaign.

Sanchez defeated Lan Sena, the city's first Asian-American councilor who was appointed by Keller to fill the seat vacated by the death of Councilor Ken Sanchez (no relation to Louie Sanchez)

District 3 South Valley

The winner: Incumbent Klarissa Peña got to keep her seat after she ran unopposed. This is Pena's third term as city councilor. She is a Democrat.

District 5 Northwest

The winner: Republican Dan Lewis made his way back to the council chambers as the winner of District 5. He easily defeated sitting Council President Cynthia Borrego (Democrat), besting her by 11-points. Lewis served two terms on City Council from 2009 to 2017. Lewis then ran for mayor in 2017 and lost in a run-off to Tim Keller. Lewis is the co-founding pastor of Soul Rio Community Church and ran on a pro-small business and public safety platform.

District 7 Mid-NE Heights

Impending run-off: There were five candidates running for District 7 in the NE Heights, and no clear winners. Since the top two candidates didn't have enough votes to secure the seat, there will be a runoff election in December between Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn and Republican Lori Lee Robertson.

District 9 SE Heights

Impending run-off: There were three candidates vying for this position: Republican Rene Grout, and Democrats Robert C. Grilley Jr. and Byron K. Powdrell. None secured 50-percent so this race will also have a runoff in December between Grilley and Grout. Democrats were almost evenly split between their two choices. Grilley bested Powdrell by just 167 votes to secure the runoff seat.

Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller congratulated the winners and hinted at sharing visions of public safety and an end to homelessness, all key issues for the new Republican Council members. "I look forward to working with you to advance our shared priorities of public safety, solutions to homelessness, opportunities for our kids, and growing an economy that lifts up every family," he said.


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