Best Practices

Mayor Martin J. Chavez

Paint the Town Days

In 1994, the people of Albuquerque made a visible, public commitment to revitalizing our city. In May, over 5,000 Albuquerque residents turned out to "Paint the Town," joining in a new mayoral initiative to volunteer to paint over the graffiti that had been slowly ruining the face of our city.

In recent years, graffiti had been getting worse and worse, and a feeling of helplessness in the face of crime was beginning to set in among the residents. "Paint the Town Day" literally changed the face of our city.

Kirtland Air Force Base units provided both volunteers and strategic organization. Local businesses provided volunteers and materials. The media assisted with massive publicity. And City Hall provided the inspiration, the overall coordination, and paid for all the paint and brushes which were not donated.

The results were fantastic: By that afternoon, the city looked cleaner and fresher. The community response was overwhelmingly positive, and the downward spiral of graffiti lawlessness has been reversed. The tide turned that day, and it is now definitely the "taggers" who find themselves on the defensive.

In October 1994, the city sponsored "Paint the Town II," to maintain the offensive in the war on graffiti. Another 1,000 volunteers turned up, and were directed to paint over the remaining graffiti. The truth is, many of the volunteers ran out of graffiti targets, due to the work of the previous spring paint-over, combined with the ongoing work of the Mayor's new graffiti clean-up unit, with its state-of-the-art scrubbing, blasting, and painting machinery.

In April 1995, Albuquerque took the Mayor's original idea to a new level. At the suggestion of our First Lady, Margaret Chavez, who proposed the idea at a meeting of mayoral spouses earlier this year, Albuquerque took the lead on "Paint the State Day." Not only did more than 1,000 volunteers turn out once again to keep Albuquerque graffiti-free, but hundreds and hundreds of other citizens turned out on the same day, in 17 cities and counties throughout New Mexico, to help paint over graffiti in their own home towns. "Paint the State Day" was a tremendous success statewide, was well received everywhere, and showed once again that citizen volunteers combined with public leadership can make a visible, positive difference in our lives.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (505) 768-3000


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