Three Albuquerque city councilors propose changes to city charter

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Three Albuquerque city councilors are proposing some sweeping changes to Albuquerque’s charter. The referendum, co-sponsored by Dan Lewis, Renee Grout, and Klarissa Pena would lower the minimum vote total to win a mayor or city council race to 40% instead of the current 50%. If no candidate hits 40%, then there would be a runoff.

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The city originally had a 40% threshold for elections, but that changed to 50% after Richard Berry became mayor. “That’s been a decade ago and the result of that has been more runoff elections. The city spends an incredible amount of money on runoff elections and voters just have to go to the polls twice to vote. so you could say we want people’s vote to count,” said City Councilor Dan Lewis.

The proposal would create a committee to recommend selections for city attorney and city clerk with the council still making the final approval. Then there are changes to the naming of the Albuquerque Police Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue chiefs.

However, the mayor or city council would be able to terminate a chief at any point. “The city council is closer to the districts, to the people in our city that are affected by these leadership areas. and so it’s important that the council is able to weigh in, have a legitimate role in these incredibly important positions,” said Lewis.

The final proposal centers on the separation of powers ensuring the Conference Committee has enough appointees to resolve issues between the mayor and city council. The sponsors say the changes would streamline and add transparency to city elections and hiring procedures.

Mayor Tim Keller said the proposals threaten the efficiency and integrity of city government.

If the legislation clears city council, it would go directly to voters for their approval.

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