Skip to main content

Mayor Keller’s State of the City Remarks Focus on Addressing Albuquerque’s Biggest Challenges

Major announcements part of city’s journey to fight crime and homelessness, create jobs, expand opportunities for kids in 2020.

Mayor Tim Keller delivered his second State of the City address today, highlighting progress his administration has made building a foundation to address Albuquerque’s most pressing challenges and outlining major efforts for 2020. As part of the ongoing effort to turn city government inside out, the address was part of a free community celebration with police recruitment, pet adoptions, and other activities for families.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland, City Councilors, the City’s executive team, and department directors were in attendance. Over 1,000 residents and more than 150 local organizations and vendors joined the festivities at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The remarks reflected the theme of a city on a journey together, punctuated by stories of overcoming challenges along the way. Mayor Keller talked about recently meeting a woman whose story highlights how the City is using resources more efficiently to meet Albuquerque’s needs. Mayor Keller said, “I met a woman last month on a ride-along. After a career as a nurse, she became addicted and was frequently calling 911 for non-emergency services. Our program connected her with a specially trained firefighter who helped her manage getting into the system. Now she’s been clean for nine months and just spent her first Christmas with her kids in five years.”

In between announcements about the City’s 1,000th police officer and reaching a major milestone for the DOJ reform effort, the Mayor talked about his own experiences running the City, including a light-hearted story about a recent attempt to squeeze in an evening run. After half an hour on the arroyo trail, the Mayor had only traveled a few hundred feet because he kept getting phone calls on issues ranging from ART, to a fugitive from APD, to the budget. Eventually, the Mayor ran up the arroyo to the perimeter of the manhunt and did the briefing for the media in jogging clothes.

The Mayor also discussed the importance of resilience when times are tough. He said, “I share these frustrations. I was born here, I grew up here. I am raising my family here, my own two young children. When those clouds start forming over our city, we must keep fighting with a clear vision… You know, some politicians will tell you they can change the world overnight. But I came into this job with sober optimism and the last two years has confirmed that this is a long road. To do what we need to do, to get where we need to go, it takes dedication to real change, resilience to get through the tough times, and courage to see it through.”

The Mayor included in the speech elements of his eulogy to late Westside City Councilor Ken Sanchez, saying “His dedication to his district, his tireless efforts to build the Westside, his steadfast leadership was a constant for decades in the Duke City. He led by putting policy before partisanship, and people before politics. Ken will be deeply missed, but his legacy is with us, a legacy of family above self, of community above self, and city above self.”

Mayor Keller focused heavily on his top priority: fighting violent crime and enhancing public safety. Milestones on the City’s public safety journey include:

The 200th new officer in two years will hit the streets this year, bringing APD back up to 1,000 officers for the first time in years. “We are meeting the urgent need to rebuild a decimated police department. Just a decade ago, there were nearly 1,100 officers. APD lost 250 officers just as crime had risen and we needed them most. We set an ambitious goal to hire 100 officers a year for four years. We got our first batch out on the street a few months ago, and I am so pleased to announce that the next 100 will hit the streets this year. In 2020, for the first time in years, our department will have 1,000 officers!”

APD taking a huge step toward reducing DOJ’s outside review. “Next month, we are walking into court to ask to end the outside monitoring of nearly one quarter of all the requirements. This marks the largest step forward the City has taken to address these challenges since this process started in 2016. This is one giant step closer to freeing up officers and taxpayer money to get back to fighting crime.”

The City expects to clear the rape kit backlog this spring. “When I was State Auditor, we found almost 5,000 untested rape kits right here at APD. This came down to a simple question of priorities. It was critical to identify these offenders and bring justice for survivors. We set this goal two years ago, and I’m so honored to announce today that this spring, we are going to clear Albuquerque’s rape kit backlog.”

AFR reduced the 911 call volume, created non-emergency outreach teams. “AFR created the HEART and BLS outreach programs to proactively help folks get the services they need, rather than using a ton of resources to react to 911 calls. And it’s working. For the first time in a decade, AFR has seen a decrease of over 4,000 calls. That means those who do need emergency services are getting them faster.”

Implementing decentralized “beat by beat” policing. “That’s policing the old fashioned way, with neighborhood-by-neighborhood tactical plans for each area commander. Crime can happen anywhere in our city, and we’re taking the fight to every neighborhood, street by street, to keep our residents safe.”

Interrupting the cycle of violence. “With our focus on hiring, we’ve finally been able to staff up important units like Homicide and Crimes Against Children. We are using technology to connect our investigators to a national gun intelligence network. We developed initiatives to attack crime at both ends of the spectrum. With our Metro 15 operation, we’re regularly arresting the worst perpetrators of violent crimes and handing off stronger cases to try to keep them behind bars. But enforcement alone isn’t enough. Our Violence Intervention Program pairs crime-fighting with proven public health model to interrupt cycles of violence.”

The Mayor will be traveling tomorrow with business leaders, prosecutors, and APD leaders for an exchange with experts at the world-renowned John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York to bring the best crime fighting strategies back home. 

The Mayor also addressed critics of crime-fighting initiatives directly, saying, “Now, when it comes to crime, there are some who want us to give in to cynicism, there are the naysayers and pundits who say our city is too far gone. They seem to want us to give up on Albuquerque…I know criticism and cynicism comes with the job. But give up? Not on my watch. We will never stop trying new ideas, instituting new programs and doing everything we can to raise up our city, to keep you safe, and to confront these challenges.”

Mayor Keller also highlighted milestones in addressing homelessness:

The City aims to break ground on the Gateway Center next winter. “We asked voters to confirm our collective desire to step up. We put Albuquerque’s first 24/7 gateway center on the ballot, and thanks to you, we have that mandate. We got to work fast, taking community input from hundreds of residents for planning and design. We hope to break ground on the Gateway Center next winter!”

The City is doubling down on housing vouchers and affordable housing. “We’ve housed 950 people a year with city-funded housing vouchers. And we’re building 120 new units for low-to-moderate income families.”

The Mayor highlighted significant progress on the economy, jobs and climate change:

Exceeding pre-recession employment for the first time. “The last two years we have implemented a deliberate strategy based on the notion of ‘return on investment’ for your taxpayer money. It’s all about focusing on what we are great at, both homegrown and imported, and it’s working. The return on investment is clear: Last year the economy grew by 3,100 jobs. That, plus another 2,000 jobs from Intel and Sandia is creating the largest influx of new jobs in a decade and is injecting $500 million in new wages into the economy. For the first time, total employment is officially higher than it was before the recession.”

Investing in training workers and supporting small business. “Businesses and workers are two sides of the same coin—you need both to succeed. We’re adding job training resources at the Southeast Albuquerque Success Center and through a new partnership with CNM called Job Training Albuquerque. Paired with our new Small Business Office and Alex Horton’s International District Business Development Center, we’re doing more to connect businesses with skilled talent than ever before.”

Using placemaking as an economic engine. “We opened the Rail Yards courtyard, the first new public space bringing that industrial cathedral to life. And that is just the beginning. Now, we’re working with CNM film school to become an anchor tenant of the Rail Yards. Other projects like the Highlands mixed use development on Central, the renovations at Civic Plaza, and the Central/Unser town center are underway and are literally changing the landscape of our city. In the last two years, the City has seen $900 million worth of construction projects in the pipeline creating thousands of jobs for local working families.”

Creating more opportunities for kids to stay safe and engaged. “We’ve doubled city programs across every level from early childhood to before and after school, and to summer programs, to free nutritious meals, and jobs for teens. Now we have nearly 30,000 children enrolled in city programs.” 

Rebuilding Albuquerque’s core. “This year we’re making major upgrades for softball at Los Altos and baseball on the Westside. We are partnering to build a new soccer complex and United practice field. These projects will bring in millions in sports tournament revenue. We’re also building an incredible new library in the International District, and finally expanding the Phil Chacon Police Station. On the Westside, we’re starting to alleviate traffic congestion at Paseo and Unser that will help shape the surrounding areas for decades to come.”

Albuquerque is moving into the top 10 sustainable cities in the nation. “We are taking responsibility for reducing our carbon footprint by transitioning our city fleet to electric and hybrid. We are building a giant solar plant out in the Jicarilla Nation to power over 50% of city government. And this year, we will buy our city’s first five electric buses. We are announcing that by just 2030, we will be one of the largest 100% renewable cities in the country!”

In closing, Mayor Keller invited everyone in our community to step up for Albuquerque: “We’ve made a lot of progress over the past two years, our city has changed in remarkable ways. No doubt, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But in those moments when the road feels long, we have to remember that we are a strong and resilient city. We are One Albuquerque! Together, we bring courage and determination to this fight. We will celebrate our victories together and we will never give up. Viva Burque!”

And true to form, the #MetalMayor began and ended his speech to a soundtrack of metal music from his personal catalogue featuring music from Judas Priest and Rage Against the Machine.

Alex Horton, the leader of the International District Business Development Center, emceed the event. The Mayor was introduced by the First Lady, Dr. Elizabeth Kistin Keller. A video on the One Albuquerque theme was introduced by Charles Ashley III, CEO of Cultivating Coders and Chair of the One Albuquerque Fund Board of Directors, who also issued a stirring call to action for Burqueños to donate their time or money to the key goals of the fund: recruiting more police officers, housing the homeless, supporting workforce training, and investing in opportunity for kids.

For full video of the speech and photos from the day’s events, click here: