Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles the Journal will publish this week on the Albuquerque mayoral candidates.
Eddy Aragon is a born salesman.
The Albuquerque native has spent approximately 13 years in the commercial real estate industry. , Nevada.
It’s been over a decade since the recession hit the industry, ultimately setting Aragon on a different path. Back in Albuquerque, he bought a radio station and hosted a daily Conservative talk show.
But now the man behind “The Rock of Talk” is in sale mode again, striving to convince a city with 75% more registered Democrats than Republicans than he – the only Republican in the 2021 municipal poll – is the best man to guide him.
Aragon has never held an elected office before, a badge he proudly wears that gives him something in common with former President Donald Trump, a man he says he admires.
“I don’t need a job,” Aragon said at a press conference in August. âI’m not going to run to become a professional politician. I run to serve the people, the city and the state.
Aragon, 46, arrived in the mayoral race like lightning during a summer monsoon.
The campaign was shaping up to be a two-man race between incumbent Tim Keller and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, both Democrats, when Aragon decided to launch a ballot qualifying effort a few weeks before the deadline.
In 14 days, the Republican made himself the third candidate in the race by collecting enough signatures and then a few to put his name on the ballot – a feat he attributed in part to his grasp as as a radio host.
The campaign encountered some early turmoil when a critic sought to disqualify him from the poll, contesting his declared residence in the southeast Albuquerque office building where he broadcasts. Aragon said he lived there – showing a Journal reporter the small kitchen and even the futon he sleeps in in a room next to his radio studio – and that his residence was a permitted use on the property. He called the court challenge a “successful political job” by those trying to thwart the momentum of his campaign. A state judge rejected the petition, confirming Aragon’s place on the ballot.
His name will appear on the ballot without party affiliation since the municipal elections are officially non-partisan, but Aragon has vehemently promoted himself as the only Republican option on the list.
It may seem counterintuitive in a county where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020 – 61% versus 37% – but Aragon believes there is an appetite to recalibrate a local political landscape that he says leans too much to the left.
“I will do my best to continue to lead our fight so that we can keep a certain balance,” he said in a recent interview with the Journal. âAll that is good in this country has always been achieved through argument, conflict and confrontation, but also a certain level of compromise that comes out organically through people presenting their arguments or their choices. “
Aragon actually came to the Republican Party as a result of a deep affiliation with the other side.
A graduate of the University of New Mexico with degrees in political science and economics, Aragon previously interned in the office of former US Senator Jeff Bingaman in Washington, DC and said he had spent years of his youth to work so that other Democrats are elected. He said he worked on campaigns for Tom Udall and former State Representative Raymond Sanchez. He still refers to Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins, a Democrat who now serves as the state’s natural resources administrator, as “the smartest politician in our state, bar none.” .
But Aragon said his break with the Democratic Party occurred during the 2004 presidential election cycle while he was working on Wesley Clark’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Senior Democrats have treated Clark, a retired army general, with open contempt, Aragon said.
“By then I was done” with the party, he said.
He essentially moved away from politics, diving deeper into his career in commercial real estate. He worked for periods in Phoenix and Las Vegas, Nevada, riding the wave before the Great Recession decimated Sin City’s economy.
He returned to Albuquerque and got involved with KIVA radio (1600 AM), first as an operator. With the help of his father, a construction subcontractor specializing in the installation of steel, Aragon acquired the station in 2014.
Aragon said he started listening to more talk radio and the tea movement in particular resonated with him, causing him to turn to the right.
âI felt more ideologically aligned with some of the things we were talking about there – certainly personal choice, freedom, freedomâ¦ and seeing government as less and less part of the solution,â he said. declared.
In his quest for the mayor’s office of Albuquerque, Aragon has made COVID-19 one of five pillars of his platform – namely challenging public health orders issued by the state government aimed at curbing the spread of virus now linked to 4,764 deaths in New Mexico. He protested the vaccine requirement for entry to the state fair and dubbed Backstreet Grill “valiant” in the now-closed Old Town restaurant’s refusal to comply with mask warrants. He said he was not vaccinated.
While courts have repeatedly upheld the authority of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration in such cases, Aragon has said that as mayor he will question them in any way he can, claiming the larger city state should have some control. He opposes the warrants for vaccines and masks and has said he will not demand that city workers get vaccinated. It should be a choice, he said.
Aragon has said he would like to hire a city-level epidemiologist, but as someone who has strongly opposed pandemic-related business closures, what would he do as mayor if the internal epidemiologist recommended closing some because of the risk of viruses?
“We would listen to epidemiologists on the basis of science, but I don’t believe they are making the final decision on behalf of the city,” he said.
Aragon maintains that the government’s response to the pandemic deprived Albuquerque of its quality of life.
âWe all have a certain level of insanity that has come with COVID, and I ask that it be brought under control,â he said.
Although Aragon has never appeared on a ballot for an elected post, he has flirted with politics before. He registered as a candidate for mayor of Albuquerque in 2017, but then withdrew and continued with the Republican Party nomination for this year’s First Congressional District special election, although central members of the l State party chose Mark Moores instead.
A father of two young sons, Aragon said he actually did not want the title of “mayor” and would instead call himself “city manager”.
âIt’s not about you or your political career; it’s about doing a job for the city of Albuquerque, âhe said.
Aragon said he would take office seeking in-depth analyzes of existing functions.
He would, for example, strive to pull the $ 133 million Albuquerque rapid transit project off Central Avenue if it is economically feasible, although he is not yet sure of the achievable figure.
He also sees the potential to improve morale within the Albuquerque Police Department, advocating for changes like a no-settling lawsuit policy and an overtime system that spreads the workload – and additional pay – more evenly across the department.
He wants the city to think differently about employee hours, promoting varied working hours, which he says meets the needs of modern workers and has the added benefit of easing traffic.
âWe’re trying to talk about a smart city, but I think the way we’ve approached some of the issues is pretty unintelligent,â he said. “I think we can improve it if we assess what it is professionally.”
Q&A mayoral candidate Edward Joseph Aragon Jr.
Name: Edward Joseph Aragon Jr. Political party: Republican AGE: 46 Education: BA political science / BA economicsâ¦