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Councilor seeks racial equity in capital investments

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

An Albuquerque city councilor is pushing to ensure that the city uses a “racial equity criterion” to determine where it makes its major capital investments in the future.

Klarissa Peña, who represents the city’s southwest district, says in a new resolution that focusing on racial equality is “critically important to getting more effective outcomes in our communities” and that the city should make that part of the criteria when developing its Capital Improvement Program for the 2021 bond cycle and beyond.

The CIP outlines the city’s capital project funding priorities, which can range from new community centers and parks to road improvements and stormwater infrastructure. It also guides the general obligation bond questions the city sends to voters every two years, such as the $128.5 million package voters approved in 2019.

The resolution is among several bills Peña announced Friday that she is sponsoring or co-sponsoring in what she deemed an effort to help Albuquerque provide “everyone a chance to prosper.”

“This year has highlighted numerous inequities in our communities that continue to plague our families,” she said in a written statement.

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One bill, co-sponsored with Cynthia Borrego, calls for the city to review how it evaluates applications from residents seeking appointments to its boards and commissions in an effort to enhance diversity.

Another, co-sponsored with Borrego and Diane Gibson, directs the city to “explore opportunities for creating supported employment opportunities” for people with disabilities.

Peña said she wants the council to vote on the CIP bill at its meeting Monday, but two-thirds of the council would have to agree to such an “immediate action” vote. If not, Council President Pat Davis said it, as with the other bills, would go through the normal committee process.