Voters overwhelmingly approved non-binding advisory measures that supported the decriminalization of marijuana and increased funding for mental health services in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Tuesday night.
The question on marijuana created plenty of controversy even in advisory form, with Gov. Susana Martinez arguing the question would put New Mexico laws at odds with federal law, while Democrat Gary King countering that a small amount, such as an ounce, should not put people in prison.
“I think if you make marijuana legal in small amounts [then] police can go after bigger crimes,” Chaia Ross-Booker, community and political organizer, said.
The second advisory question on mental health asked voters if they would support a one-eighth cent tax increase to help fund mental health studies and crisis centers in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. The question came on the heels of community concern on mental health issues after a rash of police shootings in the city in the past several years.
“As a crisis worker at Agora crisis center, I come into contact with people who are struggling every week and our current system is failing them,” says Malissa Higdon, a University of New Mexico junior.
Since the high-profile March shooting of a homeless man in Albuquerque, mental health issues have been widely discussed by legislative committees, lawmakers and the Albuquerque community. Items such as New York’s Kendra’s laws and other treatment plans have been suggested in order to help the state deal with those who struggle with mental illness.
These ballot questions have no legal effect. Supporters placed them on the ballot in hopes of gauging interest and potential support or opposition.
Voters approved Constitutional Amendment 1, which allows school board elections to be held at different time from partisan elections. Tuesday’s vote means school and partisan elections would be held at the same time.
Voters also approved Constitutional Amendment 2, which will allow Northern New Mexico College in Espanola to fill a regent position with a student.
Also getting a thumbs up from voters was Constitutional Amendment 3, which allows the legislature to set the date for filing declarations of candidacy for judicial retention elections. This means that the judicial candidates would not have to declare candidacy the same time as other candidates before the primary election.
Voters approved Constitutional Amendment 4, allowing certain counties to become urban counties and to clarify the majority vote needed to adopt a county charter. This is relevant to citizens of Valencia and Curry County who meet the geographical size to be urban counties. If they were to reach 300,000 in population they would then be able to charter an urban county.
Voters appeared headed to approve Constitutional Amendment 5, which preserves the land grant permanent funds by increasing the duty of care, removing the restrictions on the type of investment that may be made by increasing the threshold amount for additional distributions. This lets 15 percent of the Land Grant Permanent Funds to go towards investments in international securities.
State Bond Questions
Voters approved three state bond questions, including:
— $17 million in bonds for the construction, equipment, and improvement of senior citizen facilities.
— $11 million to be issued in order to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal, and public library resource acquisitions.
— $141 million to make improvements and acquisitions in higher education, special schools, and tribal schools.
City Bond Questions
Voters approved several bond questions in Bernalillo County, including:
— $1.8 million for library materials and resources within the county.
— $5.7 million in order to construct and equip County buildings.
— $6,460,000 to acquire property, design, and equipment in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act recreational facilities.
— $9 million for acquiring property, designing, constructing and repairing roads and non-motor vehicle pathways.
— $4.5 million for the maintenance of storm sewers, waste water, and fiber optic systems.