Berry to face battles in new term despite win

Posted at: 10/08/2013 10:31 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2013 1:34 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Clearly, much of Albuquerque is pleased with Mayor Richard Berry.  Still, as the saying goes, you can't make everyone happy.

Berry enters a second term in office to face mounting criticism from the city's police and fire unions.  Leaders of both unions campaigned on street corners on Tuesday claiming that public safety is at risk under Berry's administration.

"We haven't had the leadership in place to say we're going to take care of public safety first, to its full extent," Diego Arencon, President of the Albuquerque Area Fighters union said.

By next June, he said cost of living allowances will change, which could cause Albuquerque firefighters to seek employment elsewhere.

Leaders of the police union said Mayor Berry has failed to adequately address recruitment and retention of officers.

"We're just losing officers at a way faster rate than we can bring in," Stephanie Lopez, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association said.  "In the 13 years that I've been on this department, going on my 14th year now, this is by far the worst I have ever seen it."

Beyond contractual concerns, the search for a new police chief is still underway as well.

In addition to battling the public safety unions, Mayor Berry still has a public relations war over one of his own projects – ABQ the Plan.  It aims to improve the city's quality of life, while turning it into more of a destination.

Among the projects are a new interchange at Paseo del Norte and Interstate 25, a facelift to the Albuquerque Convention Center, and a vision to add more trails and access to the Bosque.

The latter has drawn criticism from hundreds – nearly a thousand – people.

"Put the money into conservation, put it into preservation," Thane Padilla with OLE New Mexico said.

On the whole, Padilla said he understands the mayor's desire for development, but said it needs to stay out and away from the Bosque.

Supporters of ABQ the Plan at the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce said even if Berry had not been reelected, they would have encouraged a new mayor to uphold it.

"We do believe as a business community that the project stands on its own in many ways, that you just cannot argue against improving the quality of this place for businesses and for families who life here," president Terri Cole said.