ABQ voters to decide if council should have say in appointing police and fire chiefs

There’s an important question on the Tuesday’s Albuquerque Municipal Election ballot: should the city council have a say in who the mayor appoints as police and fire chief?

Isaac Benton was one of the councilors who proposed putting the question on the ballot. Benton originally wanted the city charter changed so that the council could remove the chiefs as well, but that didn’t make it onto the ballot.

“It’s important that the council have more authority over what goes on at APD,” explained Benton. “We listen to a lot of concerns over the years about the police department in particular. Fire is somewhat less [of a] story, but there are still issues over that. So I think those are important areas where the public deserves more people overseeing what goes on – not just the mayor. ”

It’s a charter amendment question that, if approved by voters, would force the mayor to get consent from the city council on who they appoint as police or fire chief. If the appointee is not confirmed by the council, the amendment would require the mayor to nominate another person within 60 days to fill the position.

KOB asked registered voters near UNM what they thought.

“You know, I haven’t given it enough consideration to have an opinion,” said one woman who declined to give her name.

“I should research more and know who is on the ballot,” said Shawna, a registered voter.

“I think it’s important for all elected officials to have some input on that kind of decision in city government,” said Shawn Berman, who said he voted for this charter amendment during early voting.

Mayor Richard Berry sent KOB the following statement:

“Even though I may never have to deal with council confirmation of a fire or police chief, I think it may be problematic for future administrations due to the fact that it could overly politicize the process of selecting leadership for APD and AFD.”