Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Weekly Alibi Endorses Rey! Can we get any more endorsements?

District 6

The Alibi Endorses: Rey Garduño
District 6 is lucky. It has a track record of excellent councilors. Hess Yntema, one of Albuquerque’s all-time favorites, filled the seat for more than a decade. When he left four years ago, the position was filled by “movie star Martin” Heinrich, who has come to be another city favorite. Heinrich has garnered such a large fan base in his district and in Albuquerque that he’s decided to pull a “Heinrich maneuver” (you have no idea how long we’ve been waiting to use that term) and run for Congressional District One against incumbent Heather Wilson. That little move leaves his Council seat wide open, and now several outstanding candidates have entered the ring to take his place.
Like we said, District 6 is lucky. District 9 doesn’t even get a choice as to who its next councilor is because only one person is running. The other districts at least have races, but they still don’t compare to District 6, which has four savvy, knowledgeable and articulate candidates willing to work full-time for a relatively thankless job at less than $10,000 a year. All four would make good councilors. Three would be excellent—but, forced to choose, we did come out with a favorite, who we think would be best of all.
Rey Garduño has been living in District 6 in the same house for 33 years. During that time, he’s owned two local businesses and worked with a host of organizations (Common Cause New Mexico, CNM, the Spina Bifada Association, the Kiwanis Club, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the SouthWest Organizing Project, All Faiths Receiving Homes, more than 20 years working with APS and UNM Hospitals, etc.), exemplifying a long history of social activism. In fact, when we were going through archived issues for our anniversary a couple weeks ago, we found a picture of Garduño getting his eyes washed out after being sprayed with mace at the infamous 2003 peace march.
Garduño has a string of progressive ideas he’d like to see implemented in his district and in the city. He wants to revitalize some of the area’s more blighted neighborhoods, such as East Trumbull and La Mesa. But he wants to do so in a way that takes residents’ desires into account instead of pushing some cookie-cutter solution on the problem. He wants to explore practical ways of expanding our transportation service, such as with an excellent idea to use small, fuel-efficient, van-like buses (“collectivos”) that can go through neighborhoods where normal buses can’t. That, in addition to expanding arterial bus routes, could gradually increase ridership numbers until the city is ready for light rail and trolleys. Other cities like Portland have followed a similar model.
Garduño was also the only candidate who recognized that certain developments shouldn’t be allowed to build if we don’t have the water to support them. As he said, “We can’t promise water to anyone who wants it.” Garduño is focused on using what we have as wisely and efficiently as possible without relying on outside and unreliable sources of water to save us. Yet Garduño is by no means anti-development and believes in investing in smart projects, such as infill and redevelopment.
He has made a couple of mistakes in his past. He’s been criticized for using his UNM e-mail address to send out a campaign-related letter. He admits that, in hindsight, he shouldn’t have used it. But in his defense, he’s allowed personal use of the address for life as a retired UNM employee. Ultimately, the whole ordeal was a misunderstanding. He’s also gotten a lot of flack for not stating on his Albuquerque Journal questionnaire that he had been charged with shoplifting nearly 20 years ago. After hearing his explanation, the incident sounds innocent enough. He was at a department store picking up a few things before closing and, on his way out the door, stopped to look at a cell phone. He says he walked out the door without realizing he was still holding it. For the mistake he had to take three courses in petty larceny, which he thought would expunge the citation from his record. This is why he didn’t claim the event on his questionnaire. Still, Garduño takes full responsibility for his actions. We can’t really ask anything more of him.

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