by Marisa Demarco, Christie Chisholm and Simon McCormack, Weekly Alibi, September 24, 2009
More Cash Means Fewer Clunkers—This year's election cycle offers a couple of exciting candidates, some so-so contenders and one or two duds. Over the past few weeks the Alibi sat down with those running for mayor and those vying for the odd-numbered City Council seats. The reaction from us was mostly: Meh.
And that's odd. Albuquerque is a city in transition; precariously walking, arms out, along the fence between a traditional, small-town mindset and modernity. Our next batch of government officials will be pushing us firmly into one yard or the other and making long-lasting decisions about expansion, jobs, crime, business—you name it.
So what's the deal? Why aren't more people interested in doing this job? Well, councilors will tell you it’s a full-time position, and one they're required to do for $10,940.80 per year while supporting families and holding down other jobs. (The Council president makes twice as much.) That's significantly lower pay than what councilors in smaller municipalities receive.
In contrast, Socorro (population: about 9,000) increased councilor salaries on May 4 to $12,600 per year, and they're part-time.
Albuquerque councilors will never get a raise as long as it's up to voters. Because unless you're thinking about how the tiny salary affects who can afford to be a councilor, why would you vote to give a politician a raise? Essentially, the minute pay and long hours mean, for the most part, that only people with money and flexible schedules can sit on the Council.
An amendment to the city charter (Proposition 2) going before voters on Tuesday, Oct. 6, would form a Citizens' Independent Salary Commission to decide on pay rates for councilors and the mayor. We support this idea as a means for seeing more folks on the ballot during these elections. A small pay increase (small compared to the millions the city spends on improvement projects, public art, etc., every year) could drastically increase your options for who represents you.
- Election Day is Tuesday, Oct. 6
- District 1: Southern Portion of the Westside
- District 3: Downtown, Parts of the South Valley
- District 5: Northern Portion of the Westside
- District 7: Uptown
- District 9: Southeast Heights
- Transportation Infrastructure Gross Receipts Tax
- Candidate Questionnaires