Six of Albuquerque’s eight mayoral candidates will converge at the University of New Mexico Main Campus on Thursday, Sept. 28, giving students a unique opportunity to hear candidates’ positions on issues related to the University community.
The candidates who confirmed their participation in the debate at the time of publication are Tim Keller, Brian Colón, Dan Lewis, Gus Pedrotty, Michelle Garcia Holmes and Susan Wheeler-Deichsel.
The event, sponsored by the Associated Students of UNM and several other student groups, will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the SUB Ballrooms. The debate is free and open to the public.
Candidates will answer questions from students, and the event will be hosted by a neutral moderator.
“This debate is going to be really impactful for UNM students, because they will have the opportunity to ask the questions that affect them as college students,” said Royce Deller, director of the ASUNM Governmental Affairs agency.
“The issues that are pressing for our students are going to be different than the Albuquerque community as a whole. As ASUNM, we need to make sure that there is a forum to focus on our students,” he said.
With six days left before the election on Oct. 3, the UNM debate will be one of the last in the city. Candidate Timothy “Tim” Keller (D), New Mexico state auditor, has a comfortable lead in the polls, though it will not likely be enough to avoid a runoff, according to a poll from the Albuquerque Journal earlier this month.
Keller garnered the support of 25 percent of likely voters. Brian Colón (D), former chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, and City Councillor Daniel “Dan” Lewis (R), came in behind Keller, polling neck and neck. Colón had support from 14 percent, and Lewis had support from 13 percent.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson (R) was favored by 7 percent of likely voters. The remaining candidates polled at less than 4 percent each.
Nearly one-third of those polled were undecided in their mayoral pick. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the two with the highest vote counts will advance to a runoff election in November.
The Journal poll was based on a citywide sample of likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. Research & Polling Inc., a local firm, conducted the survey.
Deller noted that the unusual nature of this election — the first in Albuquerque without an incumbent in 20 years — makes UNM student participation all the more important.
“It is crucial for students to voice their opinion and vote for the candidate that they believe will best represent Albuquerque,” he said.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.