On Friday, September 14, 2017, KOB Channel 4 sponsored a two hour, prime time forum between all eight of the candidates for Mayor.
The format was billed as a “town hall” with questions asked exclusively by registered voters from various locations in the city and the format was a success.
Keeping in line with recent KOB news reports and the stations concentration on the City of Albuquerque’s high crime rates, the town hall was devoted exclusively to the Albuquerque Police Department, the candidate’s platforms on crime and the Department of Justice mandated reforms.
All the candidates agree that APD staffing needs to be increased, that there needs to be a return to community based policing and the big challenge will be the Department of Justice (DOJ)reforms.
Only Wayne Johnson expressed opposition to the DOJ reforms saying that they interfere with the police from doing their jobs when in fact police shootings are down and the entire department has been trained in crisis intervention.
Wayne Johnson reminded me of the Mayor in the TV sitcom Spin City starring Michael J. Fox where the actor looked like a Mayor but who was totally clueless especially when Johnson said “crime is caused by criminals, not guns” or words to the affect.
The speaking styles of each of the candidates came out very clearly.
Brian Colon and Gus Pedrotty showed far more passion and a strong desire to be Mayor, they showed extensive knowledge of the APD and our crime rates and proposed solutions solutions.
Tim Keller and Dan Lewis were more measured with their responses and tended to use many of the same talking points that I have heard at so many other forums before but they did offer viable solutions to bring down crime rates and both advocated increasing the number of police officers on the street and a return to community based policing.
Wane Johnson and Michell Garcia Holmes both emphasized their past experiences at the positions they have held over the years, with Garcia Holmes emphasizing her work as a former police detective and Wayne Johnson talking about his work on the County Commission.
Susan Wheeler Diechel and Recardo Chaves seemed totally out of their element when talking about crime, which was to be expected given their backgrounds.
Ms. Wheeler Diechel went out of her way to say how much she agreed with Brian Colon and Gus Pedrotty as if adopting their platforms.
Mr. Chaves continued to have a difficult time speaking in front of an audience and expressing himself, but that was more of a reflection of being nervous, not a public speaker and a businessman all of his life.
Their love and commitment to the city by both Susan Wheeler Deichel and Ricardo Chaves came through as well as a desire to do a good job.
All the candidates performed well, gave succinct answers to the questions posed and there were no major gaffs that would jeopardize or damage their campaigns.
I was delighted to see Brian Colon and Wayne Johnson give kudos and encouragement to Gus Pedrotty acknowledging that he has indeed brought something to the table with his ideas.
After watching the two hour forum, I began writing my satirical article on the candidates entitled “Care For Some Cheese, My Precious? Then Meet Me In The Parking Lot!” and it can be read on my blog here: https://www.petedinelli.com/2017/09/16/care-for-some-cheese-my-precious-then-meet-me-in-the-parking-lot/
ANNOYING ETHICS COMPLAINTS
The Republican Party of New Mexico and Republican candidate for Mayor Wayne Johnson filed complaints with the Board of Elections and Campaign Practices challenging the cash “in-kind” donations received by Tim Keller as being a violation of the public finance laws prohibiting Mr. Keller from soliciting any further cash donations after accepting public financing.
At the heart of the allegations are that Tim Keller’s political consultants or manager solicited cash donations from donors and then reported those cash donations as “in kind” donations for goods and service to the campaign.
The truth is that there is no specific rule or regulation that prohibits the solicitation of cash as was done and then listing the cash donations as “in-kind donation” but such solicitation by a public finance candidate at the very least looks bad, gives the appearance of impropriety and undermines the spirit and intent of the public finance laws.
Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson was also on the receiving end of ethics charges relating to his fundraising activities, but the charges were filed with the county ethics board and not the City.
At the heart of the charges are that Wayne Johnson solicited donations for his Mayoral race from people who do business with Bernalillo County.
Ethics complaints usually never get as much traction in the races as people may think and are followed mostly by political insiders.
Voters tend to view them skeptically as part of the process and par for the course.
Ethics complaints usually cause little press except for when filed and then when ruled upon giving bragging rights to the party that prevails.
What the complaints do is become a real nuisance to distract candidate’s attention and take up lots of time and at times money to respond to the allegations.
The outcomes are usually fines, with nothing more happening, except the anxiety it causes candidates.
From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout.
The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older and conservative.
Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977 and I suspect that this year the voter turnout will be less than 25%.
As the saying goes “a week in politics is an eternity”.
Even with only two weeks remaining, just about anything can and will happen.