Councilor ponders power play with seats

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A city councilor is stirring up a lot of talk in City Hall by looking into serving on both the Albuquerque City Council and Bernalillo County Commission, something that has never been done before and .

Councilor Debbie O'Malley, recently elected to the Bernalillo County Commission, told KRQE News 13 she asked about the legality of serving on both government bodies largely because some of her constituents raised concerns about her leaving the City Council.

That would mean she would be representing city residents one meeting and then county residents the next.

Some have asked if that could even work. KRQE News 13 found out it depends on whom you ask.

“So she could potentially handle the job,” Councilor Ken Sanchez said.

“There are just too many conflicts to have an elected official trying to serve two masters,” Commissioner Wayne Johnson said.

Republican Commissioner Wayne Johnson will soon sit side by side with Democrat O’Malley. He's heard the rumors floating around City Hall and said there are too many issues the city and county fight over that would leave O’Malley in the middle.

“Extraterritorial annexation has to be approved by the commission, so is she a commissioner at that point and doing what’s best for the county and county residents or is she a city councilor?” Johnson said.

On the other hand, Democratic Councilor Ken Sanchez said councilors and commissioners sit on many boards already, like the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and the Mid-Region Council of Governments.

Sanchez said sometimes it’s a plus and added it could be this time, too.

“I think her broad understanding on the city council and serving with the (Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission) is really an advantage instead of a disadvantage,” Sanchez said.

O'Malley told News 13 the city charter could prohibit the dual role, but she's heard the state constitution allows it. That could lead to a legal battle.

She also said its "unlikely" she'd actually do it. However, she still hasn't said she won’t.

News 13 also asked Mayor Richard J. Berry what he thought about this. His response was that it would be hard for any elected official to serve on two boards, especially those that work so closely together.

Copyright 2014 KRQE TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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