Six candidates competing to be Albuquerque’s next mayor attended the first public mayoral forum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Hosted by New Mexico media outlets Weekly Alibi and New Mexico Political Report, the forum had some twists on traditional structure.
The candidates were questioned on everything from the legalization of recreational marijuana to their thoughts on Albuquerque's culture.
Candidates were posed: introductory questions, questions that were only answered in “yes,” “no” or “it’s complicated” and open questions within a two-minute response time frame.
Topics, such as: crime, economic development and immigration were especially prevalent in the candidate's’ responses.
Mayoral candidates gather at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Tuesday evening for the 2017 Mayoral Realtalk Panel entitled, "Immigration, Public Safety and Albuquerque's Cultural Identity." The Panel was hosted by Unm Malsa and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center. The panel focused on public safety and immigration topics.
Six of the nine ballot-qualified candidates made it to the event: Deanna Archuleta, Brian S. Colón, Susan Wheeler-Deischel, Timothy Keller, Dan Lewis and Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty.
The three remaining candidates — Ricardo Chaves, Michelle Garcia Holmes and Wayne Johnson — did not attend the forum.
The mayoral race is nonpartisan, meaning candidate's party affiliations will not appear on the ballot when voting takes place Oct. 3.
Each candidate had to receive 3,000 signatures from registered Albuquerque voters to appear on the ballot.
The election is the first in nearly 20 years without an incumbent and is especially volatile. If no candidate secures 50 percent of the vote, a November runoff between the top two candidates will decide Albuquerque’s next chief executive.
Mayor Richard Berry, who has held the office since 2009, announced late last year he would not run for re-election in 2017.
Though candidates will chose to emphasize or downplay their party affiliation, heightened political tension could influence the election in the fall.
Former County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta, attorney Brian S. Colón and current State Auditor Timothy Keller have made their democratic party affiliation clear in their campaign.
Republican contenders are: City Councilor Dan Lewis, County Commissioner Wayne Johnson and local business owner Ricardo Chaves.
UNM graduate Gus Pedrotty, community activist Susan Wheeler-Deischel and former Attorney General chief of staff Michelle Garcia Holmes are running as independents.
Brendon Gray is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.