Albuquerque’s City Council voted 5-4 along party lines tonight to pass a resolution sponsored by Councilor Rey Garduno to ask city voters in November if Albuquerque should decrease penalties for the possession of marijuana.
The resolution was proposed after city hall announced that it had miscalculated the number of signatures required to place the question on the ballot by citizen initiative.
The new proposal to query voters about marijuana penalties was included with 4 other questions in a larger city election resolution sent to the mayor for approval or veto. If Mayor Berry signs the resolution, or takes no action, in the next 10 days the measure will go to the county commission for inclusion on the November ballot.
Councilors Ken Sanchez, Isaac Benton, Klarissa Pena, Diane Gibson and Rey Garduno voted for the marijuana election proposal. Councilors Trudy Jones, Brad Winter, Dan Lewis and Don Harris voted against.
Council President Ken Sanchez called the city’s processes “democracy at its best.”
Councilors engaged in a prolonged debate with the administration staff about whether the county will be required to place all 5 questions on the ballot. Staff indicated that the county may only have room for 2 of the questions.
Additional questions going to the county upon approval by the mayor are:
- A resolution governing the hiring and firing of the police and fire chiefs
- A 1/8 cent gross receipts tax to provide for new behavioral health services and facilities in the city
- A bond question for issuance of GO bonds for metropolitan redevelopment
- Changes to the city charter to change the process for citizen ballot initiatives
And the mayor’s chief administrative officer said the mayor is not a fan of the marijuana proposal and hinted that he would veto it. From today’s ABQ Journal:
In Albuquerque, however, the picture is not so clear. The City Council late Monday narrowly agreed to ask voters whether they support reducing marijuana penalties.
But the measure still faces at least two potential challenges – the possibility of a mayoral veto and a shortage of space on the Nov. 4 ballot.
By that same vote, they also approved an election resolution that seeks to put five different proposals on the fall ballot – ranging from a tax increase to fund services to help people struggling with mental illness and addiction to a rather mundane bond proposal. The marijuana measure is included in that resolution.
It would take six votes to override a veto if Mayor Richard Berry sides with his fellow Republicans and rejects the resolution.
Representatives of the Berry administration said late Monday they don’t support either the marijuana proposal or the tax increase.
Contact Mayor Berry and ask him to sign the election resolution which includes the Marijuana election proposition.
Earlier today, the Santa Fe city clerk certified the petition in that city which sends a similar measure to voters there.