When Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter decided to retire after 20 years of service representing District 4, Brook Bassan was asked by friends if she would run. “I laughed at them because I thought they were ridiculous,” she said, “and I ended up getting invited again by them about eight months later and my husband said, ‘When our friends are asking for help, who are we to say no?’”
Bassan was born and raised in Albuquerque, where she attended high school at Sandia Prep. After attending the University of New Mexico for one semester, she took some time off before going back to school to get her degree in criminal justice, with the goal of becoming a criminal psychologist.
“But then I met my husband and we ended up getting married and having kids. We have four kids who are 13, 12, and 9-year-old twins,” she explained. “So I became a household CEO; that’s what I like to call it because you manage so many different things when you get home.”
During her time at home, Bassan was involved in the PTA and the Nor Este Neighborhood Association and in 2019 was named Mother of the Year by American Mothers, Inc. “I just really enjoyed being involved at school and helping the kids and helping the neighborhoods or neighbors. I enjoy people,” she said.
After running a successful election campaign, Bassan was sworn into office as the District 4 representative in 2020 and now sits on several committees, including the Finance & Government Operations and Public Safety committees. When she is not busy working, Bassan enjoys playing cards and drinking wine with her friends. She also stays active and involved with her kids, who play baseball at Eastdale Little League, practice parkour at the Ninja Park, and participate in volleyball, among other things.
When it comes to the red or green question, Bassan was quick to answer “Christmas,” but said it also depends on her mood. “It depends on what we’re talking about, right? You know, you have a chile relleno, I think it’s only appropriate to have red, but if you have some chicken enchiladas, you need to have green.”
Although not the athletic type, Bassan is a Lobo fan, and when she watched football more often her team was the Green Bay Packers. She is also a New Mexico United fan and said she’s had a lot of fun at the games. “My kids love it. We all think that it’s such a positive team that’s doing really great impacts in this community. We definitely are supportive.’’
Bassan couldn’t pinpoint her favorite location in Albuquerque but said she recently went to Sawmill for a date night with her husband and visited the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit at the immersive pavilion there. “We do go to Popejoy. We like that as well. I think that the outdoors is good … But truly, I guess with our schedule, it’s difficult to pick one favorite part of town when we’re doing so many things.”
As for the weirdest experience she’s had while living in Albuquerque, Bassan recalled a time when there was a huge snake in her yard. “It’s not really weird,” she explained, “but these are the cool things about Albuquerque, right? You can go outside and you have a snake. We’ve had bobcats in our backyard. Even though we live in the city, some of the weird things to me are that we’re really close to wildlife, and we have that at any given minute.”
Bassan revealed that while in video meetings, such as council meetings and Zoom interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic, she is actually sitting in front of a green screen and not in the perfectly clean house seen in the background. “So everybody’s always saying how beautiful and clean my house is and it’s because I have a green screen and I don’t want people to see my house. I don’t want the city of Albuquerque to see my house when in a meeting … I have my messy, messy table here with my papers all over it.”
Some of the issues Bassan has to deal with as a councilor can be messy as well. She said the three topics brought up the most are crime, homelessness and the proposed swimming pool at North Domingo Baca Park. She acknowledged that crime, homelessness, mental health and addiction are all tied together. “I think most people know they’re not isolated from one another. They actually impact each other quite a bit. In order to reduce crime, I do believe we have to reduce homelessness, which pivots around drug addiction and mental illness.”
Bassan said sanctioned encampments are part of the solution, adding that, “I don’t think we want to warehouse people or ship people off … but I do think we need to provide locations so we don’t have tents sprinkled throughout our city, wherever people choose.” She said community members can help by utilizing their place of worship or finding a nonprofit that can ensure donations get to the right people. One of the problems, she said, is that people will bring food and clothing to the parks but then the wrappers and jackets will just get thrown on the ground, adding more problems for litter crews and park services.
Bassan said it is important for community members to get involved to help address issues like crime, homelessness and addiction at home or even to help displaced peoples affected by conflicts like the war in Ukraine, but to also be wary of scammers and illegitimate organizations. She advises people to vet the different organizations that are out there offering to provide services and to find one that is credible and trustworthy.
When it was suggested that District 4 does not have the same problems as other parts of the city regarding crime and homelessness, Bassan said, “I respectfully have to disagree,” stating that those problems are evident in the Northeast Heights as well. She noted that crime and homelessness along major transit corridors and densely populated areas is more visible, but those problems exist throughout District 4.
Beyond crime and homelessness, Bassan is working to secure more funding to build a swimming pool at North Domingo Baca Park. She said another $15 million needs to be secured to fully fund the $32 million project. “So I’m hoping to find the rest of the funding,” she said, adding that by the end of the year the project could be shovel-ready. “I mean it’s a real big dream, but I don’t think it’s completely impossible.”
The proposed 50-meter Olympic-size indoor swimming pool will have warm-up and cool-down lanes and a diving area that can host competitions, while the outdoor recreation pool will have additional lap lanes. “Outside will be a beach entry outdoor pool with splashy things, slides and all the recreational fun,” Bassan said. A separately funded project will also bring a splashpad to the park as early as this summer. Under the present design, the splashpad will be located between the playground and skate park on the northeast side of North Domingo Baca.
Other issues Bassan discussed include affordable housing, public restrooms, recycling and park maintenance. She said the city council can take measures to help prevent eviction, including aiding low-income families and creating incentives for landlords to provide more options for tenants. She said there are “extremes on both ends of the spectrum, but the good news that I find so encouraging is that I think that all of the council seems to agree that this is a big priority.”
Bassan is in favor of providing more public restrooms at city parks, increasing the accessibility of recycling bins and improving recycling facilities, and ensuring public spaces have appropriate lighting. She said it is important to plan accordingly, though, and that it would be inappropriate to put a public restroom in a place that is not well lit or if maintenance and upkeep cannot be done because of funding or personnel issues.
Constituents concerned about any issues can email Bassan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-414-3493. Nasty comments and name calling, she noted, should be directed to her email and not done over the phone. “I will say there’s been some really mean people this week,” she said days after the council voted in favor of her proposal to repeal the city’s plastic bag ban. “There’s been some really, really mean hateful people. So if people are just going to call me to say really, really nasty names, they can probably just send that in an email.” Bassan also noted that she’s not likely to respond to social media posts due to her concerns the platforms can be unhealthy and breed negativity.
On a more positive note, Bassan does encourage people to participate in government and community building. “Get involved,” she said. “I was always on a federal focus – make sure you vote for president, right? But that’s not your roadways and weeds and things that really happen everyday in your life. Pools and community efforts and neighborhood night out, things like that, that’s our everyday life. And so I think that it’s really important to be aware and in tune with what’s happening with our local government.”