Briefs

91 years old and voting: Why one South Broadway resident got out to vote in the 2021 city election

By: - November 10, 2021 10:30 am

Joan Jones, a 91-year-old South Broadway resident, said she voted against the stadium bond because she was worried about rising taxes, crime and traffic in her neighborhood. (Photo courtesy Joan Jones)

Joan Jones, 91, has spent more than 60 years in her house in the South Broadway neighborhood. In that time, she’s come to see a pattern.

Albuquerque mayors, often when they face re-election, tout flashy development projects that they promise will benefit her and her neighbors.

“They want something that’s going to put them on the map big time,” she said. “This was Mayor Keller’s turn.”

Why the New Mexico United stadium bond failed

Over 60 years, she said, she hasn’t felt any of those benefits. That’s just one reason she decided to vote against the New Mexico United stadium bond. 

Meanwhile, the great-great-grandmother said she’s worried about her neighbors and her neighborhood. The pandemic devastated the income of many of her neighbors, forcing several of them into foreclosure. Over the last year, she’s seen out-of-state companies buy up their homes. She said she’s worried about a rise in property taxes and being priced out of her house. 

She’s thinking about crime, traffic and gentrification, she said. The stadium proposal seemed like it would worsen all those issues. It also was poorly timed and seemed like a distraction from the issues affecting her neighbors on a daily basis, she said. The longtime Democrat said the stadium proposal was also the reason that she decided not to vote for Tim Keller. 

Data released by state and county agencies show Jones’ views about the stadium were quite common in the areas where it was proposed to be built. Her precinct south of one possible site voted by more than 60% against the stadium. The precinct with both would-be stadium sites in it went against the stadium by more than 80%. 

 

She was one of more than 1,100 people above age 90 who voted early or absentee in the election, according to county data. About 20 voters were at least 100 years old. 

In 1962, she bought her house on Smith Avenue in South Broadway for $7,500, she said. She moved in with her five kids, husband and mother, and found work as a scrub nurse and later as a typist at Mountain Bell phone company. 

“It was a very, very good neighborhood. Very little crime,” she said. “You could walk out at night. (I) wasn’t afraid of anything. It was just peaceful.”

She’s concerned these days about crime, but she said South Broadway’s neighborhood association has been active and preventive, and that she mostly feels safe in her neighborhood. Crime today in her neighborhood is nothing compared to the early 1970s, she said, when it seemed like there was a drug dealer on every corner, and she’s worried that those days could return. 

So she hopes the stadium bond’s failure sends a message to the Albuquerque mayor and those that come after him: Stop seeking silver-bullet projects to make your legacy, she said. Jones expects that this won’t be the last time developers or public officials come up with a scheme that will affect her neighborhood, she said, but she’s at least glad the stadium project won’t be happening in her neighborhood.

“I don’t think Keller will push anything else like that on us again.”

 

 

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard. Along the way, he's won several state and national awards for his reporting, including for an exposé on a cult-like Alcoholics Anonymous group and a feature on an Upstate New York militia member who died of COVID-19. He's thrilled to be back home in New Mexico, where he works to tell stories that resonate and make an impact.

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