ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Democrat Tim Keller took over as mayor of New Mexico’s largest city Friday amid rising crime and a struggling economy.
The former New Mexico state auditor officially became mayor ahead of a ceremonial inauguration and promised to immediately make changes to Albuquerque’s troubled police department.
“As your mayor, I’m dedicated to making the city of Albuquerque a safe, innovative and inclusive community,” Keller wrote on the city’s website. “This includes returning to community policing, focusing on behavioral health and substance abuse issues, and hiring more front-line police officers and first responders.
Keller has already made appointments including tapping former Rio Rancho Police Chief Mike Geier as Albuquerque’s interim chief and civil rights lawyer Oriana Sandoval as deputy city attorney. Keller said Sandoval will focus on immigrants and refugees in the city.
Keller held a private swearing-in ceremony Thursday. An invitation-only ceremony was scheduled for Friday evening at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Keller replaces Mayor Richard Berry, a Republican, who did not seek re-election after eight years in office.
The Albuquerque-born Keller is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He takes over a city experiencing one of the largest number of homicides in decades and a rising violent crime rate.
The city also is under a federal court order to revamp its police department following more than 40 police shootings since 2010.