Michelle Garcia Holmes says the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce needs new leadership and that chamber CEO Terri Cole has to go.
Saying the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce needs new leadership and that its CEO Terri Cole has to go, mayoral candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes refused to participate in the Chamber’s mayoral candidate forum on Thursday.
“I am boycotting the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce forum today because Albuquerque needs a mayor who will speak out against the status quo and show respect to the people of this city,” Garcia Holmes said.
“I am calling upon the Board of Directors at the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce to bring in new leadership to the Chamber.”
Garcia Holmes told ABQ Free Press that she was angered that the Chamber’s forum was only for the organization’s board of directors and that, apparently, members of the public weren’t invited. She also said that Chamber CEO Terri Cole, who has held the job for 34 years, needs to go.
“They should have invited the community, this is a community event,” Garcia Holmes said. “The small business community is suffering right now, putting up with burglaries and car thefts on a regular basis, without seeing a true solution from our own city leaders.”
Garcia Holmes ripped Cole for recently giving Mayor Richard Berry a public safety award. Crime in the city has skyrocketed during Berry’s nearly eight years in office, and Albuquerque is now the auto theft capital of the nation.
“I’m taking this stand because Terri Cole never should have given a public safety award to our mayor when our city is in such a crime crisis,” Garcia Holmes said. “How many more kids have to die in our community? It is very frustrating to me as a former law enforcement officer. Nobody is stepping up. The Chamber should be front and center.”
Garcia Holmes also decried the lack of jobs and economic growth in the city and said the city’s business and political leaders, including Cole, have failed the community. When asked if Cole was responsible for the city’s economic stagnation, Garcia Holmes replied:
“She is the leader. She is the one at the helm. I mean, what do we have to show for that? We need new leadership in the mayor’s office, we need new leadership in the police department and we need new leadership in our chamber of commerce. It’s our chamber, and they serve our businesses. It is so disheartening to see what is happening in our city. I’m trying to send a wakeup call the Chamber’s board members.”
ABQ Free Press columnist Dan Klein recently ripped the chamber’s leadership, calling them “dusty old bones.”
The chamber’s CEO, Terri Cole, has held that job since 1983. Cole is paid $176,000 a year in salary and benefits.
In June, Cole created a controversy by giving Mayor Richard Berry a public safety award. In Berry’s nearly eight years in office, crime has skyrocketed and Albuquerque has become the car theft capital of the nation.
Garcia Holmes held a news conference at noon today in front of the Chamber’s Downtown headquarters. Here’s her entire statement:
My name is Michelle Garcia Holmes, and I am a candidate for Mayor of Albuquerque. I’m boycotting the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce forum today because Albuquerque needs a Mayor who will speak out against the status quo and show respect to the people of this city and speak truth, humility and justice.
Today I am reaching out to the people of Albuquerque and the members of the chamber asking them to make this Mayor’s race about leadership and accountability.
Terri Cole decided to host a forum at the annual board meeting instead of gathering the community they serve and all members to hear what candidates have to say. The candidates that are attending today are up there having their complementary lunch and exclusive Q & A time. Membership was not invited nor was this event listed on the GACC calendar of events.
The leadership at the Chamber of Commerce is out of touch with the citizens of Albuquerque. The GACC forum today is a closed-door meeting where only the board members and Mayoral candidates were invited.
The mission of the GACC states, quoting what is written on their web page:
“The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to work every day to make our community a place where businesses can grow and prosper and where people want to raise their families. As the voice of business since 1917, we envision New Mexicans living in safe neighborhoods, working in rewarding careers at thriving businesses, while their children attend great schools, and enjoy their leisure time in one of the most beautiful regions on Earth.”
Well, we are a beautiful region on Earth……. Earlier this month I wrote an article about Teri Cole giving our Mayor an excellence in public safety award. As your Mayor, I would never accept such an award while our citizens are being killed with guns and knives and our children are being murdered on our streets.
Crime is at an all-time high and our business community is suffering through it. I would like to introduce you to Mannie and Grace, former business owners in our city who were devastated by our failing economy and the ART project. They have closed their doors, they have their home up for sale, and are considering leaving our city. I was at a business event last night and three different people stated “It’s so sad to see what our city has become.”
Our Chamber of Commerce should not be about fake awards and exclusivity, it must be about helping the business community grow and thrive – so our families can be strong and our children can have a bright future and a safe city to grow up in.
I’m doing this to give the Chamber a wakeup call and remind the Chamber members that they have had the same leadership for 35 years. Albuquerque’s economy has been spiraling downward for 8 years. We are number one in unemployment nationally, reaching nearly a 7% rate. We have to change the way we do business. We have to break out of economic stagnation.
Once again, I am calling upon the Board of Directors at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce to bring in new leadership to the Chamber.
My administration will bring fresh ideas, new energy and hard work to stimulate our local business community. I will be a results-driven Mayor. We must create new jobs and a vibrant economic base. My Economic Development Director will work with the GACC, but we must do it in a new manner that is inclusive of everyone. We are going to tell the nation that Albuquerque is on its way back as the number one premier location to vacation, work, live and start a new business.
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