Albuquerque mayor in strong position to run for reelection

Posted at: 01/07/2013 5:44 PM
Updated at: 01/07/2013 6:31 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry

2013 is barely under way, but Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is already under fire from one man who wants to take his place at City Hall.

"Right now I'm really concentrating on coming in every day and doing what I've done for the last three years, which is really working hard for the folks that elected me to this office," Berry said.

Retired city Public Safety director Pete Dinelli jumped into the mayor's race Sunday, blasting Berry for presiding over what he called a "meltdown" in the city police and fire departments.

"My intent will be to remove and replace both chiefs, as well as a number of deputy chiefs and, for that matter, commanders," Dinelli said Sunday. "I'm looking at a complete reorganization of both departments."

Berry took it in stride.

“If someone's going to run for mayor, they're going to have to contrast themselves to the existing person that's in that office," Berry said. "I take no offense at it. I think our record stands on its own and we've got a lot left to do. When people run for mayor they're not going to stand up and say nice things about you."

No, but it sure helps to ease the pain when your approval rating is 68 percent and only 15 percent of the voters disapprove. That's from the Albuquerque Journal poll back in mid-October, the most recent public polling on Berry's performance.

Will Berry run again? He's still not committed yet.

"I've sort of had conversations with my wife Maria and my family about the opportunity of maybe going out and asking for a second, and for me, final term as mayor," Berry said. "We're having those conversations as a family right now."

Berry and his wife owned and operated a construction contracting business before he was elected mayor in the fall of 2009.

Other possible candidates in this year's election include former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and City Councilor Ken Sanchez. Retired city police sergeant Paul Heh and local preacher Steve Smothermon have said they've been asked to consider running.