Mayor Berry vows to ‘sprint across finish line’ in final year of term

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With a year left before he leaves office, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry told a crowd at the Albuquerque Convention Center in his State of the City address that he has no intentions of coasting to the end.

“I’m fired up, my team’s fired up and my team will sprint across the finish line,” said Berry. “We will hand off the city better than we found it.”

In an optimistic speech, the mayor touted many of his administration’s accomplishments over the last few years including major infrastructure projects like the Paseo-I-25 overhaul, a number of programs aimed at helping reduce homelessness in the city and a focus on entrepreneurship.

“We are an innovative city with a growing economy and we’re becoming a new thriving home for startups,” Berry said.

Overall though, the city’s economy has remained sluggish especially compared with major cities in surrounding states. A Forbes survey ranked Albuquerque’s job growth at 188th out of 200.

Another major infrastructure project pushed by the Berry administration, the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus line, has angered many and led to lawsuits.

“A project like this is going to cause some disruption and it’s going to affect some of those folks in the construction zone for the next year,” said Berry. “I just truly believe and others outside of the city of Albuquerque believe this is a world class project, the best of its kind in America.”

On the crime front the past seven years have been a mixed bag. In the first few years of Mayor Berry’s term, crime dropped significantly. It’s been on the rise in recent years, with the most noticeable spike coming in auto thefts. Berry has pinned much of that on a sudden decrease in the jail’s population stemming from court decisions and changes that has led to lenient treatment for repeat offenders.

“Nobody, myself included, is advocating putting 1500 people back in jail,” Berry said. “But if we can concentrate on that relatively small number of criminals I think it’s going to make a big difference.”

During his address, the mayor vowed to continue efforts to beef up staffing at the Albuquerque Police Department in his final year, pushing an initiative to hire former officers to help follow through and investigate property crime cases. Reforming that department has been a top priority following a Department of Justice investigation.

Although Berry is not term-limited, he has repeatedly said he will not seek another term as mayor. Currently, former Bernalillo County commissioner Deanna Archuleta is the only candidate officially in the race to replace Berry.

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