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Albuquerque Political Structure
Albuquerque's Government

The City of Albuquerque's Political Structure

The City of Albuquerque consists of 190 square miles and a population of 464,000. The city's population is 81% of Bernalillo County 's. Approximately one-quarter of the population of the entire state of New Mexico resides in the City of Albuquerque.

The city government is a “home rule” municipality under the state constitution. This means that it is governed by a city charter adopted by city voters, rather than only by state law. The existing Albuquerque City Charter sets up a Mayor/ Council form of government, otherwise known as a “separation of powers” system. Its major feature is that the legislative body, the city council, operates separately from the executive branch, administered by an elected mayor. The elected mayor then appoints a chief administrative officer (CAO) to run day-to-day city operations by administering 21 departments with over 5000 employees.

All elected positions in city government are non-partisan. Councilors and the mayor do not run as political party candidates.

From 1917 to 1974, the city operated under a Commission/ Manager form of government with a five-member commission. At that time, the city was not divided into districts as it is today. There were five “at-large” commissioners, meaning that each was elected by a majority of all voters. The commission elected a chair from its members, and the chair became the mayor. Both US Senator Pete Domenici and Clyde Tingley were mayors under this system, meaning that they were chairmen of the commission, chosen for that post not by voters but by fellow commissioners.

The commission then hired a city manager to carry out policy decided upon by the commission.

A new city charter in 1974 brought about two important changes: (1) It created the position of mayor elected at-large by the entire citizenry; (2) It replaced the at-large city commission with a city council elected by districts. In 1989 an amendment to the City Charter gave the mayor, rather than the chief administrative officer, the power to appoint department heads. This change has resulted in turnover of departments heads when a new mayor takes office, typically every four years.

Today the Albuquerque City Council consists of nine Councilors each representing a district, or area of the city. Current city councilors and council districts are as follows: http://www.cabq.gov/council/ccmeet.html

Functions of the City Council :

•  Respond to citizen concerns

•  Represent individual districts of the community

•  Introduce and enact ordinances and resolutions (municipal law)

•  Approve the operating budget for the City of Albuquerque and appropriate funds consistent with goals and objectives

•  Decide on the capital improvements program to be presented to the voters of the City of Albuquerque

•  Issue municipal bonds

•  Establish five year goals an one-year objectives


Functions of the Mayor :

•  Respond to citizen concerns

•  Administer city projects and programs and organize the executive branch of the city

•  Appoint and direct a chief administrative officer; hire and appoint all city department heads to administer day-to-day operations

•  Appoint members of city committees, commissions and boards, with the advice and consent of the Council

•  Carry out policies adopted by the City Council

•  Prepare operating budget for Council consideration consistent with goals and objectives

•  Prepare a written “state of the city” report annually available to the public

•  Exercise veto power over Council legislation and budget

The City of Albuquerque has control of zoning and platting decisions within the municipal limits.


For more information on lists of and contacts for the City's 21 departments:



For information on specific city services:



For a copy of the Albuquerque City Charter, click on this LINK




Albuquerque Political Structure & History

Bernalillo County
Political Structure

City/County Consolidation

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