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Garcia Holmes: Blood On Streets Because Of Berry’s Failure

Garcia Holmes: Blood On Streets Because Of Berry’s Failure

This award is NOT deserved, as there is blood on our streets because of Mayor Berry’s failure to make public safety a priority.

BY MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES, Candidate for Mayor of Albuquerque

We are at epidemic levels for crime, and Terry Cole, CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, decided to give Mayor Richard Berry a public safety award. Mayor Berry, shame on you for accepting it!

I am concerned for our city with the handout of this “public safety award.” I personally feel this award is not deserved, as there is blood on our streets because of Mayor Berry’s failure to make public safety a priority. Many families have suffered due to violent crimes in our city, such as those of Daniel Webster, Lilly Garcia, Victoria Martins and many more.

If our current Albuquerque mayor had put in place a collaborative, ongoing and comprehensive public safety plan during his eight years as mayor, crimes like these may have had a different outcome.

Instead, as crime continues to rise on our streets, the city leadership has been focused on projects like the Albuquerque Rapid Transit effort. This project has created construction and traffic-flow chaos as well as causing a decrease in employment and revenue for our local downtown businesses.

We all should be contemplating how much money Mayor Berry reallocated over his eight-year term by depleting our police department and gambling with the safety of our city. I personally have worked for mayors who made this same mistake, and was temporarily transferred to APD’s Recruiting Division to get the officer numbers up again.

Those mayors scrambled to recruit, hire and train new officers before crime became the number one focus. Mayor Berry never made public safety a priority, thus resulting in the same mistake other mayors have made, but taking action too late to remedy our crisis.

Albuquerque is ranked number one in the nation for auto theft and number five in violent crime. Homes, businesses and vehicles are being broken into on a continuous basis. Speaking with the people of Albuquerque, they want answers, they want plans, and a strategy to make our city safe and prosperous, not awards and accolades.

We know our city can be so much better than what the national statistics state. We all love the weather, beauty, culture and cuisine here. VISIT Albuquerque, along with New Mexico True and our Albuquerque Economic Development programs are all doing a great job with marketing for both tourism and bringing in new businesses to our city.

However, if crime continues to soar, we will see a decrease in tourism and business growth in Albuquerque. This is a major concern for economic development. On Oct. 3, we have an opportunity to elect someone with experience to deal with our crime problem, and yes, it’s the number one problem.

There are 58 outstanding company leaders on the GACC board, who create an economic impact on our city by employing thousands of people. Because of this award, one member, Jeremy Reynolds of Joy Junction, one our largest homeless shelters, stepped up boldly to announce he’s backing out of his membership with the GACC. Which leads me to believe we should be looking at why Terry Cole, CEO of the GACC, would feel justified in handing out this award.

In police work, we call it “losing your edge.” You must know when to hand the baton off to the next generation of leaders. Everything rises and falls on leadership, and our leadership must be held accountable.

Our economy and crime has become worse under weak leadership and the GACC board should start thinking about their leadership as well. It is time to take our city back and bring in a fresh perspective that understands public safety and the plight of our hard-working families and business community.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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