Schultz Elected As Albuquerque Mayor
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) _ Former city councilor Ken Schultz narrowly defeated Jim Baca on Tuesday in a runoff mayoral election that centered on the growth of New Mexico’s largest city.
With all 118 precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed Schultz had received 41,495 votes, or 51 percent, to Baca’s 39,450 votes, or 49 percent. A close race had been expected.
″We’re going to work and we’re going to be enthusiastic. We’re going to start Monday morning,″ Schultz said. ″To the people who voted for Jim Baca, I ask also for your support.″
Baca, 40, the state land commissioner, and Schultz, 47, emerged as the top vote-getters in the city’s Oct. 8 municipal election, defeating six other candidates, including two-term Mayor Harry Kinney. The runoff was necessary because neither candidate received 40 percent of the vote.
Voter turnout was about 54 percent of the 162,342 people who were registered to vote in the runoff, Clerk Angie Ludi said.
Three polls commissioned by the city’s television stations gave Baca a slight edge, but the margin of error in each poll wiped out any difference.
Much of the Baca-Schultz campaign centered on the future growth of the city, which contains about a third of the state’s total population of 1.4 million.
But the candidates agreed on most of the major issues, including their support for a controversial proposal to build two new bridges over the Rio Grande to connect the growing westside with the main part of the city.
Both candidates also stressed their experience in government. Schultz, a former car dealer, emphasized his dealings with local government as a city councilor. Baca pointed to his experience as a former mayoral aide and as state liquor director and state land commissioner.
Baca took a leave of absence from his land commissioner’s job while he campaigned for mayor and returned his salary to the state.
The new mayor will take office Dec. 1 for a four-year term.