Retired surgeon Jim Fahey was elected Corrales’ next mayor in Village elections March 1. He defeated Gary Kanin’s come-back try 1,566 to 1,063. As an indication of voter intensity, 1,682 villagers took advantage of early voting, well above that of 2018. Fahey, now chairman of the board for the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), had served three terms on the Village Council ending two years ago.
After an unusually contentious, and well-funded, battle to become the next mayor of Corrales, Fahey takes over with a few priorities already indicated: getting the pathway along Corrales’ business district accomplished and updating the Corrales Comprehensive Plan with attention to senior living possibilities and wastewater collection in areas of residential density.
Kanin had been previously elected mayor three times. He declined to seek re-election in 2006 and ran for Village Council instead: he lost to Fahey that time, too. In the less frenzied races for three Village Council seats, the winner in District 1 is Rick Miera, in District 3 Mel Knight and in District 4 John Alsobrook. At 88, Kanin’s age probably deflated his chances. But the mayoral election was affected by two main forces: partisan politics seeping in from intense national and state activism; and opposition to commercial cultivation of marijuana here.
In 2006, running at-large for a seat on the Village Council, Fahey was elected. But not long after, Corrales switched to council districting; district boundaries drawn then resulted in Fahey and another councillor living in the same district, so he couldn’t seek re-election until the new district seat became open. When it did, he ran and won in 2012 and again in 2016 in what is now District 5. He served on the council until March 2020.
Among his major accomplishments during those terms on the council he listed removal of nearly all stop signs along Loma Larga so that road could serve as a traffic reliever for Corrales Road as intended; establishing districted representation on the council; and construction of a sewer line in the business district that connects to Albuquerque’s sewer. While on the council, Fahey began attending meetings of the board of directors of SSCAFCA which attempted to address chronic flooding problems here and in Rio Rancho. He was elected to that board in 2010, and has been re-elected ever since. He is currently the board’s chairman. His SSCAFCA term ends next year.
Neither he nor Kanin liked the project which eventually installed a small-diameter wastewater line down Corrales Road to serve the commercial area, but they helped implement it to end a decades-long impasse. “Ultimately, we got only a STEP system,” which is a pressurized septic tank effluent line that accepts only liquid waste, and serves only the business district. He wants to reconsider options now.
Based on statements during the candidate forums February 7 and 10, Fahey thinks the next Village Council may be ready to consider switching to a more conventional gravity-fed sewer system.
“The system we have now is not the best. It appears, after the discussion we had the other night, that all the five people who participated are for a sewer line. So if they’re all in favor of a sewer line, we should start thinking about planning for a sewer line.”
Although the Kanin camp tried to paint Fahey as a supporter of commercial cannabis operations in Corrales, Fahey said repeatedly that he considers that matter closed based on the Village Council decision earlier this year. “The ordinance banning commercial cannabis in residential areas has been passed, it is the law of the land, and it will be enforced and defended,” he emphasized.
On another long-running, endlessly delayed proposal, a pathway along Corrales Road, Fahey said he would “absolutely” like to see the pathway implemented as soon as possible.
He does not favor Village government taking over Corrales Road [State Highway 448] because it would be too expensive to manage and maintain. Among the reasons are that the road cannot meet the Village’s roadway standards and the numerous irrigation pipes and culverts under the road will eventually deteriorate, requiring enormous repair costs.
If the highway department fixes those things and brings it up to meet the Village’s standards, a transfer of ownership might be possible, he said.”We can certainly discuss it with them, but they need to tell us how much they spend on the road, they need to get the culverts clear and functional and they need to stabilize the road shoulders.”
The candidate said he favors moving ahead with a new full-size gym at the rec center and would like to see a performing arts center built.
He wants to see tighter controls on construction of casitas or the reversion of existing ones to rental units, although “I’ll not interfere with ones already in existence, but if this keeps going, we’re going to have issues with our groundwater.”
To allow an ongoing proliferation of casitas “would be a quantum change for the Village of Corrales,” Fahey added. He sees permission for higher density senior living facilities in much the same way, although he noted that is already being evaluated by the Planning and Zoning Commission and would likely be addressed by an update of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan.