New Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty says while she hasn’t encountered surprises as a newly elected official, there is an adjustment period. She has called for a meeting this month in Sandia Park to talk about the recent denial of a water appeal.
After a month in office, Pyskoty spoke with The Independent about her priorities.
“I’m not sure there were surprises. I think I knew what I was getting into. I knew I would be busy. But with any new job there’s always a period of adjustment,” Pyskoty said when asked what she found surprising after taking office, adding, “You have to meet with … heads of the different divisions within the county as well as stakeholders within the community.”
With the state legislative session now in progress in Santa Fe, Pyskoty said, “The top [capital outlay] priority for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County is the emergency communication system for first responders. Down around Chilili there are … dead zones which is a public health and public safety threat. So, we’re asking for $30 million … for infrastructure and maintenance.” Pyskoty said that the county also needs 4-wheel drive vehicles in the East Mountains and that there is a capital outlay request to address that need.
Pyskoty was asked about behavioral health initiatives in the East Mountains, something she campaigned on. She cited the cooperation between Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County to re-purpose the old First Choice medical facility in Edgewood for behavioral health.
She went on to say that a new initiative, the “Re-entry Resource Center,” located in downtown Albuquerque, provides coffee and sandwiches to prisoners released from the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) and provides resources for finding housing, health care and behavioral health services.
When asked how that affects the East Mountains, Pyskoty replied, “Everybody goes to MDC.”
“Bernalillo County is attempting to create, in a cost-effective way, an integrated behavioral health system,” Pyskoty said, “for people with mental illness, substance abuse addiction, homelessness issues.” She said that was why the county supported the First Choice initiative in Edgewood.
When asked how Bernalillo County addresses the needs of homeless people in the East Mountains, Pyskoty answered, “I suppose most of our homeless services are in Albuquerque; there are a lot of housing options for the homeless in Albuquerque.”
Asked again about homelessness in the East Mountains she said, “It’s an interesting question. I’d like to see the numbers on that and the patterns on that. It’s probably something that nobody has ever assessed before.”
“Let people know that when they do have a need to send an email to District5@bernco.gov,” Pyskoty said. “Because we can’t do anything if we don’t know about it. No commissioner is just going to be driving around looking for needs to solve.”
Pyskoty said she has scheduled a meeting to discuss a recent court ruling denying the appeal of a water usage plan for Campbell Ranch. That meeting will be held Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. at Vista Grande Community Center.
When asked about that decision, Pyskoty declined comment, saying there will be two county lawyers who worked on the case and other water experts at the meeting.
Pyskoty said she’d like to see the expansion of the Whispering Pines senior meal site. Turning it into a “multi-generational center is something that’s in discussion,” she said.
When asked about the North 14 Sector Development Plan passed in 2012, Pyskoty said, “I’m not an expert on it. The problem with being a commissioner is that there’s so much and so I do not store it all in my head. I want to be accurate.”
She was asked about the Carlitos Springs Restoration project and said that there had been some vandalism at the site and that they need to get the money to put up a fence.
Regarding the Sedillo Ridge Open Space project to develop trails and a trail head, Pyskoty said that the county is “continuing to work on it.”