Mayoral Candidate Wants a Reformer Chief at APD
Dan Lewis says that if he’s elected mayor, he will have one message for anyone looking to become Albuquerque’s new chief of police: You must be a reformer.
“I would say that if you think you are here for any other reason but to reform this department, if you think you’re here for any other reason, then go now,” Lewis said as he discussed his mayoral campaign. “I want a professional reformer. We must have reformers, people who are committed to reform in APD and in the mayor’s office.”
Lewis, a two-term city councilor from the West Side who announced his mayoral candidacy in January, said his campaign will focus on three issues: crime and public safety, the economy, and education. He believes the Albuquerque Public Schools should be broken up into three or four smaller districts.
Lewis said that if the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, which he voted against, doesn’t perform as its boosters claim it will, he’ll consider junking it and returning Central Avenue to its original traffic configuration.
But it’s crime, APD reform, and what he called a lack of leadership at City Hall that Lewis will pound away at during the campaign.
“Our city is considered dangerous, stagnant and failing,” he said. “We are defined by criminals, by stagnant job growth and by failing schools. I believe that we don’t have to accept the unhealthy status quo.
“The buck stops at the mayor’s office. We need leadership in the mayor’s office, and we have to stop any kind of defensiveness and bunker mentality. What will I stop as mayor? I will stop the bunker mentality.”
Crime and APD
Lewis, who said he was the first councilor to call for an investigation into APD, said he’ll hire a reformer to run the department, get APD up to at least 1,100 officers, reinstate community policing and give residents and the local policing councils a real voice in shaping policy at APD.
“With new police leadership, we will get ahead of the reform process. We believe in the reform process, and we will lead it from the front and not be dragged along by the Department of Justice and the courts,” Lewis said. “That’s not a characterization of the DOJ or the courts, it’s a characterization of APD leadership.”
Along with hiring more cops and a new chief, Lewis said he’ll work with the city’s community policing councils.
“We want people to know that the ideas they are suggesting, that the feedback they are giving, is truly shaping the policy and shaping the procedures for the department,” Lewis said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re doing this because the courts and the DOJ say we have to and that we’re just going through the motions.’ If we do that, the public will be disappointed, and they’ll see right through it.”
Lewis said he’ll build on the city’s budding innovation and entrepreneurial culture. The one difference between himself and other mayoral candidates, he said, is that he has started and run several businesses and knows how to create jobs.
“Three or four years ago, we had three or four accelerators, or incubators, to help entrepreneurs, and they weren’t talking to each other. They were jealous of each other, and they were in conflict,” Lewis said. “Now we have about 25 of them. I will double down on it. We will convene thought leaders, we will attract talented people who are innovators and entrepreneurs, and then the capital will follow.
“Albuquerque is on the verge of some of the greatest companies we will ever see in our country, and they will start in our city. But you have to have an entrepreneur in the mayor’s office, somebody who has actually created jobs.”
The city won’t be able to reduce crime or build its economy unless its education system is fixed, Lewis said. The way to do that, he said, is to break up APS.
“We have one massive, failing school district that encompasses every part of our city, and we need a mayor that not only recognizes that but will say every single day that it needs to change,” Lewis said. “We have to take one large, massive, failing school district and break into multiple, accountable, transparent and smaller school districts.”
Lewis said he doesn’t like the ART project and notes that he was one of two councilors who voted against it. He said that unlike other projects – the I-25/Paseo del Norte interchange rebuild being one – that were based on needs and demands of city residents, ART isn’t needed.
“There is no dire need that we are trying to fix,” Lewis said of ART. “It did not come from the community recognizing a dire need and going to the city; it went the way of the mayor’s office.”
Lewis said he’ll introduce legislation that would require Central Avenue to be returned to four lanes of vehicular traffic if ART doesn’t do for the city what its backers say it will.
“I have stood against this project from the beginning, and ART will be completed by the time the next mayor takes office,” Lewis said. “But I will introduce legislation that says if it doesn’t meet the metrics of traffic flow and the metrics of economic benefits to the corridor, then we will have the ability to revert the road back to its original configuration.”
Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press Weekly.