During the 2021 mayoral campaign, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller toed the line on COVID mandates, saying he would do everything within his legal authority to get people vaccinated.
“The straight-up truth with vaccinations is, I support them, I want everyone to get them, but I also know we have to be able to do that legally, and we’ve got to be able to work with our collective bargaining units, the contracts we have, and we’re going to do everything we can. But I also am not going to make false promises. This is a tough issue. I just want everyone to get vaccinated, and we’ll push them as hard as we’re allowed to, legally.”— Mayor Tim Keller, Oct. 2020, KOAT mayoral debate
He’s keeping that promise with a requirement that all city employees — totaling about 6,000 — either vaccinate against COVID or show weekly proof of a negative COVID test.
“Keller stressed that the city is not mandating vaccines since employees can choose the testing path instead, a requirement that would start Feb. 7; however, those who opt for testing and do not show a negative test result each week risk being placed on unpaid leave. Those who test positive can use their accrued sick leave.”— ABQ Journal, Jan. 12, 2022
In October, just before the election, The Albuquerque Journal’s editorial board called out city and county leaders for ignoring the Biden Administration’s mandate requirement, writing that “encouraging shots…is a good thing, but actually requiring them as a condition of continued employment as President Biden and Gov. Lujan Grisham have done is real leadership.” (ABQ Journal, Oct. 3, 2021)
The problem with this kind of “real leadership” is that mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment isn’t legal. The Biden Administration knows this, which is why it issued the order via executive order rather than through Congress. The governor and state legislature know this, which is why they have not attempted to pass a law mandating vaccines.
And Tim Keller knows this — or he’s smart enough to see the legal writing on the wall. Not only will SCOTUS rule on the legality of Biden’s mandates on Jan. 12, 2022, but the continued failure of vaccines to stop COVID — not to mention the link to “immune system fatigue” from excessive vaccinations and skyrocketing “all cause mortality” — is good reason for any young mayor to proceed with caution, assuming he wants to advance his political career beyond the mayor’s office.
So mark it as a “campaign promise kept” for Keller. While his critics predicted a post-election mandate reversal, Keller promised to stay within his legal authority in advocating vaccines, and he has.
Is he appeasing the far-left Kool-Aid drinking Vax Covidians by “requiring vaccinations”?
But he’s giving people an opt-out option with “testing in lieu of” vaccinations, which gives him some wiggle room when it comes to deniability if the current trends of mass vaccine failure continue.
It’s not the leadership the free-ish state of New Mexico deserves, but it’s not as blindly partisan and medically invasive as it could have been.
It’s smart politics if Keller has his eyes on a congressional race in the future, which is likely, particularly if CD1 Rep. Melanie Stansbury throws her hat in the race for governor in 2026.