Clock ticking for November ballot items

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s a race against the clock as city councilors scramble to get issues to voters.

Councilors will not meet until Wednesday and after Mayor Richard Berry struck down five big items, they are moving forward with a few changes.

“It’s going to be important that we get this done very quickly,” Ken Sanchez, city council president, said.

Time is not on their side and city councilors are watching the clock after Mayor Berry vetoed a package of items that could’ve gone to voters this November.

“There were actually five important initiatives that would’ve gone to the voters where they would’ve had the opportunity to vote on every single one of these critical issues,” Sanchez said.

It included decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, making changes to special elections, G.O. bond money, council confirmation to hire, and if needed, fire police and fire chiefs and a 1/8 gross receipt tax for things like mental health services.

“I do not believe that we as a council can override that veto,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said they would need six votes to do so. They have now narrowed things down.

“We are looking at three priorities that we feel need to go forward.”

So they have bundled up special elections, council approval on police and fire chief moves and the G.O. bond money.

“This would be somewhat of a compromise bill to try and get something to the voters in November,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez expects a big turnout at the polls since it’s a gubernatorial election, but they’ll need the mayor’s okay and fast.

“The mayor will have to have this signed by Thursday,” Sanchez said.

City councilors have discussed the possibility of a special election to the tune of $500,000. They are hoping to avoid that, though. The other two items not in the new package include decriminalizing marijuana and the gross receipts tax. Those are the reasons the mayor says he used his veto power in the first place.

Sanchez said they will go forward separately but he expects the mayor to once again veto them.

A spokesperson for the mayor said he does support the other three. The mayor is just one hoop councilors must jump through.

Whatever items make it past councilors and the mayor still need to be approved by Bernalillo County Commissioners to make it onto the November ballot. At this time, the special commission meeting set for Thursday has not been cancelled.

There’s also concern over just how many items can fit on the ballot. One commissioner told KRQE News 13 he has heard as recently as Sunday night that only one item may be able to move forward.

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