Early voting for the Albuquerque mayoral race is already underway and will continue through Sept. 29, followed by Election Day on Oct. 3. With that in mind, the Daily Lobo compiled candidate responses to a few key questions in our community. This does not include write-in candidates or Dan Lewis — Lewis did not respond in time for our publication date. 

Compiled by Brendon Grey, Nichole Harwood and Kelly Urvanejo


Can you describe some of your experience with politics and how do you feel it will serve you as Mayor of Albuquerque?



Ricardo Chaves

“I’m a newcomer to politics. I’ve never run for office before, and my involvement earlier in my life was minimal, basically supporting candidates I thought would do a good job. I want political leaders who will serve the people, but often they serve just themselves. I want politics to be a way in which people can be part of the system that governs them.”

Brian S. Colón

“My passion for leadership grew considerably at the university level. I served as a student senator and student body vice-president at NMSU and was GPSA president here at UNM. In 2008, I was elected Chairman of New Mexico's Democratic party. In 2010, I ran for lieutenant governor and won a competitive five-way state primary. After graduating from UNM's School of Law, I have been committed to promoting justice and equity in the City of Albuquerque while also devoting time and energy in our nonprofit community. My experiences help me understand Albuquerque and bring people together to elevate our city with fresh perspectives and mindful leadership.”

Michelle Garcia Holmes

“I was born and raised in Albuquerque. My husband and I raised our five children here, and our youngest daughter just graduated from UNM with a chemistry degree. I'm running for mayor, because I, too, am tired of the crime epidemic in our City. I served eight years as chief of staff with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for Gary King where I worked on budget, legislation concerning campaign finance reform, government corruption, human trafficking, child pornography and animal cruelty. I assisted the attorney general in the day-to-day operations, managing and hiring staff, as well as working on statewide issues. I served 20 years with the Albuquerque Police Department working in (the Field Service Bureau), recruiting/training, auto theft, sex crimes, violent crimes and crimes against children. Our city is at a turning point and in dire need of experience in both leadership and management that will make public safety a priority. I believe the people of Albuquerque need a mayor who will serve the people and not the political parties they are attached to. The mayor’s office is designed by city charter as non-partisan. I am an Independent. My top three priorities are:

  • Public safety — incorporate my Crime Reduction Impact Plan day one to put a stop to Albuquerque being number one in nation for auto theft and number five in the nation for violent crimes. This will also support local businesses for creating more jobs and a better economy once this has been put in place and the people of Albuquerque will feel safe again.
  • Joblessness and homeless: Focus on creating better city services that can deal with our homeless, mental health and addiction issues. I truly believe that if we make our city safe, it will be prosperous, and we will be able to attract more businesses to relocate here and stop existing businesses and families from leaving Albuquerque.
  • Education: I am tired of Albuquerque being at the bottom of the national ranking, and I plan to collaboratively work with APS and the community to turn this around, so we will not only help our local families but attract new families that want to move to Albuquerque in the future.

Wayne Johnson

“I am a sitting Bernalillo County Commissioner and have been for the past six and-a-half years. As such, I bring an outsider’s perspective with an insider’s knowledge of the systems and people that govern in the Albuquerque Metro Area. As a commissioner, I have had success addressing all of the critical issues facing our city including public safety, job creation, education and behavioral health. I will be ready to tackle the challenges facing our city on my first day in office.”

Timothy "Tim" Keller

“After 15 years in the private sector, I came back to my hometown and became involved in public service; first during my two terms as state senator from Albuquerque’s International District, where I passed the most bipartisan legislation of any legislator during that time, and currently as New Mexico’s elected state auditor, where I work to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in governments across the state. As the only candidate with experience running a state agency, I am uniquely qualified and prepared to take on Albuquerque’s challenges head-on. As auditor, I have worked to challenge the ‘myth of scarcity,’ which says that we don’t have the money to improve our city and our state. What we need is new leadership to prioritize our spending in those places where a mayor can have the biggest impact from day one.”

Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty

“Politics is all around us. The problem is we’ve been taught to believe in it as only government work, not as administrative tasks and cooperative efforts are everyday work hurdles. Through politics, I’ve been able to ensure the development of a taproom on UNM’s campus. I’ve managed residence halls, working out conflict and bureaucracy and organized other large initiatives like Resident Lobo Reclaim. The fact that political work I’ve done hasn’t been in direct government agencies will be a strength. To better change ineffective bureaucracy, it may be best to look at it with fresh eyes and unbeholden hands.”

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

“I was a college student who depended on student financial-aid and the state scholarship to get through my BA. I then worked for two years to pay down student loans and save as best I could to return to university to study pre-med. I quickly became homeless, often sleeping in my Volkswagon as I doggedly continued my education. I had one semester remaining when California passed a very famous referendum called Prop. 13, which essentially gutted the matching funding for student financial aid. That was the end of my dream to become a physician. I went to work, started businesses, and although I tremendously regret not realizing my ambitions, I have worked my way over the ensuing 40 years into solidly lower middle-class.”

What will be your biggest priority as Mayor of Albuquerque?

Ricardo Chaves

“My biggest priority will be to get control of our out-of-control crime wave. We have to do that before we can attract new businesses that will hire workers and spur economic growth.”

Brian S. Colón

“Undoubtedly, crime. Our crime epidemic has spiraled nearly into a state of lawlessness. People don’t feel safe in their homes, and surely, with our unprecedented rates of property crime and auto theft, our students are feeling the effects. Our community deserves trust in its police department, rebuilt through an appropriately staffed APD and a commitment to constitutional community policing. We also cannot fail to address the drivers of crime: behavioral health and addiction issues that are often rooted in poverty.”

Michelle Garcia Holmes

“Reduction of crime and job creation will be job one...Albuquerque is in the middle of a crime wave that is destroying our city. Crime directly affects our business community and tourism. My priority as mayor is to attack crime aggressively. I will solve this problem! I have the overall knowledge and work experience of how and why crimes are committed...I will use my 28 years of experience in law enforcement to develop solutions to the many failures in our justice system. We need to make Albuquerque a safe city so businesses and tourism can prosper...Crime reduction: I will not allow staffing levels to drop. I will increase the size of our police department to the budgeted 1,000 officers. My experience will enable me to select the right chief who possess strong leadership and management skills. We need to evaluate the staffing levels and allocate staff to appropriate divisions. We must ensure we have the appropriate amount of staff in our investigation bureau so we can stop crimes like auto theft, burglaries, robbery and drug crimes, to name a few. My administration will immediately begin collaborating with state and federal partners, DA’s office, courts, along with probation and parole to ensure criminals are held accountable and prosecuted. I will stop the revolving door! I will use proven policing techniques, like the Albuquerque Regional Auto Theft Team and Repeat Offender Program to fight crime. We also need better city services that can deal with our homeless, mental health and addiction issues. I believe we need a one-stop facility where we can get individuals back on track. In keeping up on data that we receive from this population, some individuals need long term treatment, some have housing needs, and some just want to be reunited with family. We need to better serve this population’s short and long-term needs. There is no temporary or short term fix for this ongoing problem. It must be dealt with.”

Wayne Johnson

“Our city is in a crime crisis. My top priority will be to make Albuquerque a safe place to do business and raise a family. A safe city is a prosperous city filled with opportunity and growth.”

Timothy "Tim" Keller

“Underlying all of these issues, our fundamental challenge is that we have been avoiding the big challenges facing our city directly. Albuquerque is a strong and special place, but today we face immense challenges. We have the highest crime rates in a decade, not enough job opportunities and struggling schools. Too few are getting ahead and too many are getting left behind...For too long, we have avoided our challenges, ignoring the issues or pointing the finger at others and waiting for them to solve our problems. Whether pointing the finger at Santa Fe for our crime problem, saying we need their help with ‘“return-to-work’” legislation for our police, or saying our crime problem is part of a national trend, our leadership has consistently neglected to take real action to solve our epidemic of crime. Our current administration has also relied on hopes that an out-of-state company will move here and hire us all, solving our unemployment problem. My priority is pushing specific real solutions to actually move the needle on these problems, solutions that don’t require waiting on anyone else. If we do this, we can finally push past trying to be Denver or Austin or any other city and be the best Albuquerque we can be, a multicultural role model for the rest of the country.”

Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty

“To move Albuquerque out of its same story line and towards a possible future. We cannot continue to elect city governance that preaches the same old one-size-fits-all solutions. As mayor, I will commit to implementing systematic solutions that address systematic issues. My priority will be ensuring that our city is cooperating to make this vision a reality. By more intimately experiencing what is actually here in our community and its current state of delivery, we’ll put forward real recommendations based on what is already here — empowering our communities towards the change they need.”

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

“The unfortunate answer to that question is I must make all issues related to crime and public safety my first priority. These grim statistics have made a negative impact on many of our hopes for more vibrant economic development, the revenues of which fuel all the costs of living in and maintain Albuquerque as the great city, with the great bones that it has. Until ABQ has made measurable progress on that front, we will likely continue to struggle on other fronts as well: poverty, homelessness, mental and behavioral health issues, addiction, lack of opportunity, the cost of health and behavioral health care and on and on.”

What are your long-term and short-term goals for Albuquerque?

Ricardo Chaves

“I'm running for three reasons, and I’ll be focused on these main goals: first, we must restore safety and security to our city; second, we must rescue our economy; and third, we should reduce the size of government and make it work for all the people.”

Brian S. Colón

“I’m running on my vision of making Albuquerque a safe city and a smart city. That vision is my long-term goal for Albuquerque. It is time to stop accepting being at the top of the bad lists and the bottom of the good lists. We elevate the quality of life and our city’s reputation by committing to a budget that reflects our values. For a Colón administration, those values serve the interconnectedness between public safety, economic development and education.”

Michelle Garcia Holmes

“Long-term: First of all, I want to focus and continue with the great things our city is already doing... with over 20 existing Albuquerque coworking, incubators and accelerators that I am aware of, including FatPipe being named as one of our Country’s Best Coworking spaces in the nation from an article I read by Technology Magazine, Inc from May 2017. I want to have my appointed economic director collaborating and supporting this initiative for our city. Our workforce is changing and this is the new way to do business. Why reinvent the wheel when this is where we shine? The innovative and younger workforce want to get away from your standard brick and mortar and want a more collaborative workspace to be inspired with other smart-minded entrepreneurs around them. This has proven to be very successful in many cities, including Albuquerque. Many high school students are graduating with AP classes behind them and high GPAs and students coming out of our own UNM and CNM here with technology talents. We need to work with all of our educational institutions and capture these students and get them to stay here in our own workforce. I have plans to build an arena and a larger parking structure Downtown. This will help us utilize the Albuquerque Convention Center for more events and conferences. Our downtown area needs to be brought up to a smart and best city standard. While doing the above, we need to get the crime reduced with my Crime Impact Program. You can read the CIP at Michelle4mayor.org.

“Short-term: I will put together a strong diverse leadership team that will focus on crime, education, joblessness, homelessness, behavioral health and economic development. My short-term goals cannot be achieved alone. I have worked for five different mayors. A good mayor knows how to surround herself with smart working leaders in our community. Running our city is similar to running a large business with many moving parts simultaneously. The CEO or president cannot do everything by herself or himself, but he or she can hire the right people in the right seat so the company can grow strong and build momentum for success. I will build an administration that will aim for success. I will organize two working summits — one to address our homeless issues for bringing all of city and nongovernmental partners together to develop and implement action plans. We will also work on a mental health initiative to create a robust Mental Health & Addiction Treatment Center. We must deal with our addiction issues in our city. The second summit will address the fact that Albuquerque is number one in joblessness. This summit will work on action plans that can be implemented within our first 100 days to get our economy moving again. I will bring our business community together to ensure everyone is at the table contributing to the decision-making process to move Albuquerque out of its stagnant economy. I will reach out to our young professionals to participate in this summit as this issue directly affects their future.”

Wayne Johnson

“My short-term goal is to tackle Albuquerque’s crime problem. Long-term goals include job creation, creating a better educational system, and building a regional behavioral health system that addresses the needs of those with homelessness, addiction and behavioral health problems. Ultimately, we all deserve a safe, prosperous community.”

Timothy "Tim" Keller

“In the immediate term, our next mayor has to get serious about our crime problem and work to provide relief from day one. Longer term, we have to turn around Albuquerque’s economy, especially through investment in our local businesses and entrepreneurs. Looking to our next generation, we have to step up for our kids and provide quality afterschool and summer programs to keep kids engaged, learning and out of trouble when they’re not in school.”

Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty

“My short-term goals are to create low-barrier-to-work employment areas through aggressively pursuing a complete move towards green energy. We can pay for this overhaul by legalizing marijuana as a municipality and putting the tax revenue towards renewables. Opening up such diverse job markets, with a wide range of access to employment, would greatly relieve strain on other issues. Long-term, I’m interested in Albuquerque pushing the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry by commercializing locally developed tech. Through this, we can become an international hub for education and technology innovation, while also having the opportunity to share our arts, culture and history.”

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

“Short-term: complete the DOJ settlement agreement as quickly as possible under the leadership of a new city administration, with a new police chief and a highly motivated police department. Redevelop the very archaic City of Albuquerque website to include a portal that will provide a ‘one-stop’ station in which new businesses may register and other businesses may take care of all permitting and fees. Do a massive study of all of the public and private assets available within to city in order to make a truly informed plan to move the city forward on many front.”

What do you think is the biggest issue for students, and how will you address that?

Ricardo Chaves

“Students need to be able to find work in Albuquerque and want to know that they can live here safely. People are leaving this city in record numbers. Even five of my brothers and two of my children have left, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. If we cut the tax burden on individuals — by cutting waste from our city budget — and if we cut burdensome regulations on our businesses, more people will stay here, because businesses will begin to grow again. We must act now to make Albuquerque a business-friendly city.”

Brian S. Colón

“Opportunity. By choosing the University of New Mexico, every student on campus has made an investment into this community and has assuredly felt the pressure of our current situation. I know that our young people have doubts about their ability to build their families and careers in Albuquerque upon graduation. We have to provide effective incentives to assist local businesses while securing the attention of major national employers. The entrepreneurial energy of our arts economy and downtown corridor must be replicated across Albuquerque. Having the right leadership and addressing our crime epidemic allows us to finally realize our collective potential.”

Michelle Garcia Holmes

“The lack of a job market during school and after graduation. I will bring in a new director of economic development that works directly with other organizations in our city to improve the way Albuquerque presents and markets itself to new businesses seeking to relocate to Albuquerque so we have a job market for young people. Albuquerque’s demographics can support growing business sectors like technology, healthcare, manufacturing and construction. Albuquerque is a beautiful place to live, work, visit and retire. I would like to see a robust internship program put in place for our students to help them garner job experience in their career fields. I will be a mayor that encourages the business community to be more proactive in collaborating with our student population. We need jobs in Albuquerque so our younger population has a future here.”

Wayne Johnson

“Crime is one issue that affects everyone in our community. But the lack of job opportunities that sends graduates looking elsewhere is a huge problem. We need a better business environment, more private investment and a growing job market to provide the opportunities for both students and graduates. Unlike any of the other candidates, I have a long history of supporting and enabling job creators in our community.”

Timothy "Tim" Keller

“I think the biggest issues facing our students are the lack of opportunity available right here, in Albuquerque, and our city’s quality of life. When students graduate from our universities, the best opportunities available to them are often out of state, and it’s time we reversed that ‘brain drain’ and got serious about creating and retaining local talent. We have to launch recruitment initiatives to bring our youth home once they graduate. As mayor, I will foster partnerships between City Hall, our research labs and our universities to open up real career paths, encouraging youth to come to Albuquerque, and stay here. By reforming APD, hiring 400 new officers and implementing real community policing, we can also finally address the public safety issues which hold back our economic growth and lead so many to move away to safer, more prosperous cities.”

Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty

“A visible job market on the other side of their degrees. We can use our economic tools to invest in infrastructure that will spur job markets while contributing to the University and our education system. The most salient example of this is biotech. When we license and commercialize intellectual property from UNM, we create industry with a workforce we’re educating here, through technology we’re creating here. We can also unite business community members to fill in the gaps, like the Nick & Jimmy’s and their other businesses, who are stepping up to help with tuition and decrease attrition.”

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

“Having the assets and support to either go through university or college, knowing that there is a high likelihood that good-paying jobs will be waiting for them right here in their region when they complete their studies.”

How will you address the growing crime rate?

Ricardo Chaves

“First of all, we must change the leadership of the police department, before we can attract new officers and raise morale. I’m the only candidate vowing to seek a chief exclusively from outside the APD, who is beholden to no one, and who has a proven record of turning around police departments. I will fully fund the APD, giving our brave men and women on the beat the tools they need to fight crime. I will insist on a review of the command structure and make appropriate changes there, as well. And I will insist on cutting waste and bureaucracy from the APD’s budget and using the saving to put more officers on the beat.”

Brian S. Colón

“Albuquerque needs targeted police units to reduce violent and property crime. Constitutional community policing and partnership efforts must be supplemented with stringent pre-trial procedures, repeat-offender review with enhanced criminal prosecution, mental health training, treatment for individuals with addiction and gang prevention. In order to reach the optimum number of qualified officers, we need to increase the frequency of academies, candidate diversity and provide compensation and benefits to make APD an attractive choice. We need new leadership in APD to repair the breach of trust between the rank-and-file officers and the Administration while also repairing the relationship between the community and APD.”

Michelle Garcia Holmes

“I will collaborate with my police chief. Collaboration is key to deal with the crime problem in our City. The mayor's office and the district attorney's office must work hand-in-glove. We cannot allow investigated cases and arrests to be dropped and not prosecuted. I will work to find solutions to the prosecution obstacles. If it is a lack of funding, then we will find the funds to fully prosecute our cases presented to the district attorney. We must get criminals in front of judges and get convictions in order to control our criminal element. We must stop the revolving door arrest scenarios and the ‘catch and release’ reputation that we currently now have. Our city must work with the courts to identify drug addicted criminals and have a court mandated option that they receive effective drug treatment so they can break the drug habit that drives much of the criminal behavior. Having a new Behavioral Health Treatment Facility will help with this issue. I will create a District Attorney Liaison Unit to ensure that the police department provides fully investigated cases. This will include all lab work and crime lab analysis necessary to obtain prosecutions, as well as getting feedback from the courts and district attorney’s office on how to achieve better results on all cases. I will create a check and balance system of review so all cases sent to the District Attorney's office will be tracked to ensure that they are fully supported with police testimony and supplemental investigation. I want our officers and detectives to also get feedback from the District Attorney’s office on the cases they have submitted. We must grow our police department to the budgeted 1,000 officers and then evaluate if more are needed to allow for community policing needs. Community policing is a great model and fosters relationships between neighborhoods and the police officers working there. I will create a panel of former law enforcement chiefs and experts in the field of public safety to assist me in selecting the right new police chief for our city. The new leadership of the police department will motivate our police officers to once again be known as hard-working, dedicated, professionals that our community expects, deserves and desperately needs. I know from experience the type of police chief that Albuquerque needs and the skills he or she must possess to lead our department effectively. The next police chief must know and understand our unique culture and possess a proven history of results and integrity. Our next police chief will be available to the media, the public and other law enforcement agencies. The police chief will be the public spokesperson for the police department. There will be no political hires in my administration. I will remove the politics out of our policing and focus on making Albuquerque safe. I worked for five different mayors, seven different police chiefs and for the top law enforcement officer of the state. I truly believe my background and experience will benefit me in selecting the right police chief that will serve the needs of our city.”

Wayne Johnson

“We have a crime fire burning across this city. And just like a forest fire, we can’t wait to train and equip 350 officers to put the fire out or that criminal fire will only spread. We need help now. So my first step as mayor will be to work with other local agencies like the fully staffed Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department to provide immediate relief to APD. Then we will form a regional law enforcement task force that focuses on the 20 percent of criminals committing 80 percent of the crime. We’ll include our metro area law enforcement partners and the FBI and route those criminals around our broken judicial system and into the Federal Courts whenever possible. Next, we’ll take the cuffs of our police force and narrow the scope of the DOJ agreement; empower and support our police officers to do their jobs; and rebuild our police department with sufficient staffing to respond to calls, complete investigations, convict criminals and engage the community in order to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.”

Timothy "Tim" Keller

“Public safety is the number-one issue facing Albuquerque today, and I plan to address it by replacing the leadership at APD, hiring 400 new police officers and implementing real community policing and restoring trust with our neighborhoods.”

Augustus "Gus" Pedrotty

“Through a service-first model. We cannot look towards the old law-and-order dialogue to fix systemic issues. While our police department does need reform, which we’ll ensure through hiring a new police chief and command staff, finishing the DOJ mandate, hiring more officers and committing to community policing, we also need a new support system in our community. Instead of dealing with nonemergency situations of homelessness, addiction or behavioral health with emergency infrastructure, we could dispatch a lower-cost point-of-service to transport people to decentralized small clinics where the city could be the focal point of community needs and services offered-reducing barriers to getting care.”

Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

Candidate declined to answer