ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Crime is one of the top issues facing Albuquerque voters in the upcoming mayoral election and now the union representing hundreds of police officers has made its endorsement in the field of eight.
In a news conference Thursday afternoon, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) endorsed candidate Tim Keller as their choice to be the city’s next mayor.
Even though Keller has run as a Democrat in prior elections for other positions in public office, the union says the endorsement goes beyond political party affiliation.
“This city is at war,” said APOA President Shaun Willoughby at the Thursday news conference. “This city is at war with the criminal element and we’re losing.”
Crime has become one of the central focuses of the recent Albuquerque mayoral race. In a recent KRQE News poll, 65 percent of respondents cited crime as the “most important issue.”
Accepting the endorsement, Keller called it a “tremendous honor” Thursday. The APOA’s endorsement is the first the union has made for a mayoral candidate since the 2009 election when the union endorsed Democrat Marty Chavez.
“We wanted to pick a leader,” said Willoughby.
Willoughby says the endorsement represents the votes of 22 police officers who sit on the Albuquerque Police Officers Association board. Willoughby told KRQE News 13 that the board’s members represent various ranks and divisions throughout APD.
“It was not an easy decision,” said Willoughby.
The decision is also one the presents an interesting political dynamic to consider.
While the Albuquerque mayor’s race is technically unaffiliated with political parties, most candidates have political affiliations that are widely known. Keller has run as a Democrat in the past elections.
Meanwhile, police officers are often associated with conservative politics. One example comes from a poll published by “Police Magazine.” The publication says it found out of about 3,800 current U.S. police officers who responded, about 84 percent said they’d vote for then-candidate Donald Trump.
The APOA says the mayoral endorsement goes beyond party politics.
“When he talked to us I didn’t feel like I was being politicized,” said Willoughby.
Like many of the other candidates, Keller has also talked about raises for officers. KRQE News 13 asked Willoughby if the APOA’s endorsement was in relation to which candidate sounded strongest on the idea of raise officers pay wages.
“Absolutely not, I believe every candidate that is in this race is talking about bringing competitive pay,” said Willoughby. “We endorsed Tim based on our feeling he was the right leader for the job.”
Willoughby also told KRQE News 13 that he thinks the APOA’s endorsement represents the feelings of the rank and file officers at APD, including the ones outside of union decision-making.