Why I'm Running for Albuquerque City Council District 4
- I have a vested interest in District 4, as a parent, as a resident and through community involvement. My husband and I have lived in the area since first moving to Albuquerque in 1999. All three of my now-grown sons graduated from La Cueva High School. I owned a restaurant in the area for several years.
- It’s clear that the City of Albuquerque needs to press forward rapidly to resolve its long list of challenges. The current city council isn’t making enough headway.
- My sons have moved away from New Mexico, because the state, and more particularly, Albuquerque did not offer them sufficient opportunity. This is true for the vast majority of young people graduating from New Mexico colleges and universities. They leave the state. This has to change, and the city’s role is to encourage economic development that creates the kind of opportunities that will encourage our “best and brightest” to stay.
- When the 4th National Climate Assessment was released last year, with its conclusion that we have only about 10 years to avoid even more severe weather patterns, I decided it was time to become even more involved than I have been as President of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association. We’ve seen at the state level what can happen when the executive and legislative branches of government can work together—New Mexico now has an Energy Transition Act that will reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation by 100 percent by 2050. It’s a great start. Now it’s time to ramp up Albuquerque’s role as an energy leader, especially with community solar projects that allow those who don’t own their roofs, i.e. renters and condo owners, the opportunity to invest in solar.
- And electric vehicles. The next big area for reducing pollution in Albuquerque and greenhouse gases overall. The city’s decision to ditch electric buses in favor of diesel or CNG is a step backward when we need desperately to push forward. We need more charging stations for electric vehicles to further the transition away from gasmobiles. And new companies need to be fostered to make it happen.
- We’ve seen the tragedy of opioid addiction here in District 4. We need to increase community-based treatment options within the district so that those afflicted get the help they need close to home.
- We need ways to make this district more bike-able and walkable.
- We need more community policing, so people feel safe walking and biking. So we feel safe to talk to our neighbors.
- We need a community swimming pool, to enhance the low-cost fitness options that have a great start here with the North Domingo Baca Community Center. A community pool to give our youth a place to build strong bodies and friends. A community pool to give our local athletes a place to practice. A community pool to give families a reason to hang around for the summer. A community pool to foster connectedness. I remember hanging around the neighborhood pool and making and meeting friends.
- I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I want to hear what my neighbors throughout District 4 think about the best ways to preserve, and in fact, improve the quality of life in Northeast Albuquerque. and spread it to the rest of our ONE Albuquerque . So email me! I can be reached at athenaFor4@gmail.com.
Athena's Background and Qualifications
Athena Christodoulou was born in Covina, CA, daughter of a Corps of Engineers engineer, who retired and wanted to leave the smog of Southern California. Her family moved to North Carolina, where she went to middle school, high school, and where she met her husband, Christos Christodoulou, while a junior at North Carolina State University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Dngineering.
In the same year, she interviewed with Admiral Hyman Rickover for a job as technical instructor at the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power school. She spent 3 ½ years in Navy active duty, attained the rank of commander, and during that time she had her first child. She then left active service six months later for the role of full time parent. However, she stayed in the Naval Reserves, spending one weekend a month, until 2005, when she retired. She stayed in the reserves throughout her child-bearing years, and called it, “the best part-time job I ever had.”
After several years in Florida, where all three of her sons were born, and where she achieved a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering, Athena and her husband came to New Mexico in 1999 when her husband was chosen to be Chair of the Electrical Engineering school at UNM. She had only been to New Mexico once before, but the desert climate appealed to both of them—desert, sunshine and no bugs! The couple with their three young sons first took an apartment near Wyoming and Paseo del Norte, in District 4, and have stayed in the area ever since.
While still the mother of a young son, she achieved a Masters degree in Nanoscience and Microsystems at the University of New Mexico.
When Athena’s sons were far enough along in school, Athena noticed a need for a restaurant. “Nobody cooked, none of my friends cooked,” she said. Athena’s Greek Café, near Paseo del Norte and Wyoming, continued for three years. During those years, she watched the area grow to become the hub of the far Northeast heights.
As high achievers active in band and athletics, as well as achieving high grade averages, all three of her sons graduated from La Cueva High School. During their school years, Athena helped establish a math club to enhance what students were learning in class.
Athena designed the solar home in which she and her husband now live, incorporating many passive and active solar systems into the design. After being a Nissan Leaf electric car owner, Athena is now driving a Tesla 3, and she lives a nearly carbon-free life. She can teach others how to achieve the same!
As current President of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association, she continues to lead and teach others about renewable energy. As she tells the tale, “I was on ABQ Energy council. I turned Brad Winter’s ear on the vote for the city to be 20% solar by 2025. Brad Winter was going to vote against it. I sent the report to him, and convinced him that the numbers work.” The bill passed unanimously!