Ballot Guide: Why voters should vote for “BernCo Home Rule Urban Charter” on their ballot

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Among the many questions on the ballot this November, you will find one asking you to approve the “Bernalillo County Home Rule Urban County Charter”.

That Home Rule ballot proposal recognizes that Bernalillo County is now one of the largest counties in the nation with obligations and needs that are very different from other counties in New Mexico.  The charter, if adopted, will allow county government to be more responsive and give greater voice to local leaders rather than state government.

Maggie Hart Stebbins, Bernalillo County Commissioner

Maggie Hart Stebbins, Bernalillo County Commissioner

Many of the state statues that currently govern Bernalillo County were written in the late 1800s and don’t accommodate the needs of a 21st Century urban county like ours.  The Home Rule Charter allows us to customize county government to our needs by addressing the responsibilities of county government that don’t fall under state law.  As a result, the new county charter will give residents more control over their local government by modernizing and updating rules and procedures that are outdated and no longer appropriate.

Last year the County Commission began to consider home rule for Bernalillo County. We appointed a bi-partisan committee of community stakeholders including Senator Dede Feldman, Terry Brunner, Tasia Young, and other knowledgeable and civic-minded volunteers who worked for nearly a year to thoughtfully identify core issues and needs in county government.

The charter that emerged from their deliberations and a bi-partisan vote of the County Commission includes more accountability for how our tax dollars are managed through strong investment and financial oversight provisions and fortifies our ethics and transparency efforts.

The charter would also streamline our purchasing processes and give us more flexibility when applying for grants or taking action against nuisance properties.  For example, state law prohibits Bernalillo County from using gender pay equity as a preference in our procurement process.  Under home rule, the commission may pass legislation that would encourage vendors to eliminate those pay gaps.

Much will remain as-is: all county elected offices, their compensation and boundaries stay the same. There’s no merger between city and county governments. And of course the county would still abide by state and federal law.

Through this proposal, Bernalillo County residents will gain flexibility in addressing local challenges and allow county leaders to be more responsive to the people they serve.

Please vote yes for local control of local government this November 8.

Need more voter information?  See the ProgressNowNM/Progressive Champions Progressive Voter Guide online now