TACKLING THE ISSUES: Mayor Tim Keller updates officials, business leaders on continued vision for Albuquerque

Mayor Tim Keller speaks about city issues and plans Tuesday at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s annual Downtown luncheon at the Doubletree by Hilton.

On Tuesday, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce hosted Mayor Tim Keller for the Mayoral Address Luncheon at the Doubletree by Hilton in Downtown. Keller shared detailed updates on three areas important to the Chamber – public safety, city projects and Downtown.

GACC CEO Terri Cole first welcomed the audience of dignitaries and business leaders, and Mike Canfield, former chairman of the Chamber, current membership chairman and president and CEO of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, welcomed new investors to the Leadership Circle, which includes about 90 companies, as well as the Connections level.

Mayor Tim Keller speaks about city issues and plans Tuesday at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s annual Downtown luncheon at the Doubletree by Hilton.

Canfield first introduced SunEx Aviation, an aviation training center with air charter services that is based in Albuquerque. Dr. Lorenzo McDuffie spoke about how he was part of Leadership Albuquerque where he got the education and confidence to start SunEx Aviation.

Next up, Canfield introduced DaBella, a home improvement service company founded in 2011. Then Window Hero was recognized for its membership to the Chamber. The business is a cleaning service which has 12 locations nationwide and recently opened in Albuquerque.

Canfield also welcomed College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk to the Chamber with its first Albuquerque branch.

City of Albuquerque CAO Samantha Sengel introduces Mayor Tim Keller at the Mayoral Address Luncheon.

City of Albuquerque CAO Samantha Sengel then introduced Keller.

The mayor acknowledged the working relationship he and the Chamber have had through his political journey. “We’ve always been able to find a lot of common ground and really work together,” Keller said. “Whether it’s the work done with the City Council, we appreciate the relationship.”

Keller started his address with crime reduction in Albuquerque and focused on technology advancements and partnerships. He had four key points:

  1. Progress in Albuquerque’s quality of life indicators, including GDP growth and reduced crime rates.
  2. Partnership with county government for efforts that have led to positive changes in the city.
  3. Investment by the Albuquerque Police Department of $48 million in technology to improve crime fighting, including gunshot detection software and license plate readers.
  4. Increased APD investigative resources, including the creation of a shield unit, to address violent crime.

“Last year was the first year in a decade when most of our quality-of-life indicators actually started going the right direction,” Keller said. “They were all going in the wrong direction last year. So, what did we see? We saw a 20%-plus drop in homicide, and a 20%-plus drop in auto thefts. The most important thing is that we are catching violent criminals. If you shoot someone in Albuquerque, there is now over a 90% chance we will catch you. And it’s within days, and we will put you in jail.”

Keller then dove into how using technology and civilians helps support police work.

He highlighted the city’s real-time crime center and community safety department.

“Albuquerque Police Department’s community safety department is a full-fledged Cabinet-level department responding to 911 calls with trained social workers and civilians,” he said.

The department has taken 60,000 911 calls. Of those, 40,000 were given to civilians responding to emergencies, which helped keep first responders available.

“In 2023, Albuquerque implemented an alternative response department that has improved police response times by an hour and provided more effective support for individuals in need,” Keller said.

He then moved onto the importance of the department having somewhere to take and treat people who are living on the street.

“The Gateway, a new facility set to open this winter, will provide 1,000 people with a place to stay and receive necessary services,” Keller said.

Keller emphasized the need for a special legislative session on mental health and addiction treatment and urged legislators to quickly address the revolving door in the criminal justice system.

He then switched gears to talk about capital projects, including the NM United Stadium, the Albuquerque Rail Yards and tourism.

“By September, we’re going to know if we’re going to have the United Stadium at the Balloon Fiesta or not,” Keller said.

The upcoming Rail Trail Project will connect Albuquerque through a world-class trail envisioned by architect Antoine Predock. The trail will tell New Mexico’s story through 12 stations — each with a unique theme.

Mayor Tim Keller speaks about city issues and plans at the GACC’s Mayoral Address Luncheon on Tuesday.

Keller then put focus on Maxeon, which is building a solar panel manufacturing site at Mesa del Sol. “Mesa Del Sol will become the solar panel manufacturing capital of America, transforming Albuquerque,” he said. “Mesa del Sol will become an area full of job opportunities for New Mexicans.”

Finally, Keller moved on to Downtown Albuquerque, where he said over the last decade, the city has increased the residential population.

Other key highlights of the mayor’s address included:

  1. Positive changes in Downtown Albuquerque, including new businesses and improved safety measures.
  2. Ongoing challenges with low-level crime and broken windows, with the mayor emphasizing the need for continued efforts to address these issues.
  3. A plan for the city to give Downtown $100 million in dedicated taxpayer revenue for development.
  4. A focus on partnering with property owners and developers needed for Downtown revitalization.
  5. A proposal to give Downtown residents control over public safety funds and tax money.
  6. The potential for DOJ oversight of police department to end, with mixed impact.
  7.  Albuquerque’s police reform, arts initiatives, and permitting process improvements.
  8. City Hall’s transformation into an art museum, showcasing local artists and reflecting Albuquerque’s cultural power.
  9. And a new software system implementation expected to significantly reduce permit processing time, with a 40-60% reduction in days estimated.

Bruce Stidworthy, GACC Board chairman and Bohannan Huston president and CEO, closed out the luncheon with thanks to Keller and dignitaries and business leaders in attendance. See Keller’s full speech here.

A new event calendar packed with keynote speakers on essential topics as well as fun networking events kicks off next month with 2024-2025’s first Shakers and Stirrers networking event July 16 at the Shark Reef Cafe at the ABQ BioPark. Details follow in this newsletter.

And on Sept. 18-20, the Chamber is sponsoring the next Roadrunner trip up to northern New Mexico, which will focus on New Mexico’s outdoor economy.

We look forward to seeing you at these and more!

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