ALBUQUERQUE, NM — The Board of Directors of Equality New Mexico (EQNM), the state’s largest and oldest LGBTQ+ political advocacy organization, has endorsed Isaac Benton, Ane Romero, Patrick Davis, and Maureen Skowran for Albuquerque City Council.

Each of these four candidates has unique characteristics which we believe make them the right person for the job of City Councilor. Each has a strong, lengthy record of being a champion for the LGBTQ+ community, either through their elected office and/or the lived experience of their own identities. We take our endorsement process seriously and have made these decisions only after significant consideration and feedback from our community. If elected or re-elected, Maureen and Patrick will join Diane Gibson on the Council, setting an Albuquerque record for the number of openly LGBTQ+ councilors. The Board recognizes the incredible talent and commitment to our communities demonstrated by the other candidates who sought our endorsement in these races: Zachary Quintero, Robert Blanquera Nelson, and Gina Dennis. We look forward to working with each of you in your pursuit of public service.

Isaac “Ike” Benton – District 2 was previously endorsed by EQNM and is a long-time co-sponsor of EQNM legislative initiatives at the city. Ike has a strong, demonstrated record of supporting policies that promote equity and diversity. Benton supports an ordinance that would protect youth from bullying and harassment at community centers based on their identity, which includes language about alternative forms of discipline focused on education, remediation, prevention, and providing support for the target of bullying rather than exclusionary discipline, criminalization, or “zero tolerance” policies for bullying and harassment. Finally, he is committed to fair hiring and employment practices by Albuquerque government and private employers, working in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and LGBTQ+ advocates to identify gaps and opportunities for legislative action.

“LGBTQ+ residents are key to our success as a community,” says Benton. “The role of government and community programs is to open doors to underserved populations that have historically been excluded from the economy. These must include everyone: women, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ+ [communities], poor and working class people. [...] We must celebrate and promote diversity and understanding.”

Ane Romero – District 4 has worked tirelessly as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. As the Policy Director for the Center for Civic Policy, she worked with LGBTQ+ advocates (including advocates from EQNM) to highlight, prioritize and pass LGBTQ+ policies at the state level. Romero has also worked for many years on behavioral health and suicide prevention initiatives and legislation, knowing that queer and transgender young people disproportionately attempt suicide. She has worked directly with LGBTQ+ youth, educating community members, families, and educators about risk factors that LGBTQ+ youth face.

“As city councilor, [I will] allow those who are experts in LGBTQ+ work to lead and guide the work,” says Romero. I will stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure that we expand policies to include opportunities for equality and oppose policies that discriminate in any way. Whether it’s protecting families or standing against policies that would openly allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ communities, I am committed to working on key policies that will help eliminate discrimination practices and any other policies that aim to pose a risk to the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Patrick Davis – District 6, as an openly gay City Councilor, has contributed to Albuquerque’s rapid progress in deepening protections for the LGBTQ+ community and he is committed to making protections even deeper and stronger. Davis, both as a councilor and in his professional career, has supported key EQNM initiatives, including our campaign to keep extreme conservative candidates from getting elected to the school board to creating a legal defense fund for county clerks issuing marriage licenses (before the NM Supreme Court decision) in 2013. Davis believes that "systemic inequality carries forward from generation to generation and we must address the inequities in education, job creation, addiction and entrepreneurship in order to help lift families out of poverty because the legacies of slavery and colonialism still exist in our social institutions.”

“I’m proud that we include LGBTQ+ affirming language, definitions and protections in our city policies but there is more we can do. [We can] recognize LGBTQ+-owned businesses for purchasing preferences, create dedicated LGBTQ+ liasons in city departments, specifically for police and fire, [and] expand city participation in national LGBTQ+ leadership networks,” says Davis.

Maureen Skowran – District 8, believe that we are defined by our core values – two of those defining values are a willingness to do the hard work to make things better and a commitment to service to country and community. We look forward to the opportunity to see Maurreen work on making our neighborhoods safe, expanding community resources, creating a vibrant local economy, and addressing the crises in homelessness, addition, and mental health – all through regular engagement with her district. Skowran would be the third openly LGBTQ+ member of the council.

”I am the only candidate from City Council District 8 who knows what it is like to be afraid to hold someone’s hand when walking in public or to be concerned when applying for a job that I will be denied employment because of my sexual orientation. I will stand up for LGBTQ rights because they are my rights and the rights of many in my district and throughout the city of Albuquerque,” says Skowran.

Equality New Mexico is proud to support these candidates who will help make the city of Albuquerque a more inclusive, safer, healthier place in which all people are supported, are valued, and experience equality and dignity in every aspect of life.