County Commission votes ‘yes’ to ART advisory question on ballot

ART Albuquerque Rapid Transit
ART Albuquerque Rapid Transit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In a narrow three to two vote, the Bernalillo County Commission voted to put a question about the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project on the November ballot.

This gives voters the chance to say whether they’re in support or opposed to ART.

But should Albuquerque voters have a say in whether ART is coming to Albuquerque?

That’s what County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley wanted to ask voters, basically as a poll question on the November ballot.

Commissioners supporting it say it will give the public a voice but as a non-binding question. It will have no legal effect, which is why commissioner Wayne Johnson voted against it.

Lonnie Talbert voted against it, saying ART is a city council issue.

Of course, this move also impacts New Mexico politics.

UNM Professor Gabriel Sanchez says the ballot question could put Mayor Richard Berry on the spot.

The proposal will put ART on the same ballot, alongside the presidential race.

In this debate over what an advisory question would even do, ART critics argued it could send a message to the feds as they review the decision to give the city money for the project.

The mayor’s office says in part it will not change the plans for ART, and says the advisory question is “confusing, misleading and frankly doesn’t make sense.”

Statement from the Office of the Mayor:

Tonight’s action by the County Commission on a party line vote will not change how the City moves forward with ART. The project has already started, there is a multiple million dollar contract in place and federal commitments and authorizations to proceed have been received. To put a baffling, advisory only question on the ballot that asks voters for an opinion as to whether they think there should be another vote at some point in the future is confusing, misleading and frankly doesn’t make sense. We are pleased that the Albuquerque City Council was able to work outside of partisan politics to advance this world class project on behalf of our community.

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