The question after the second debate between mayoral candidates Dan Lewis and Tim Keller is why would anybody vote for either of them? They spent the debate characterizing each other as stunningly unfit to be mayor.
If they don't think each other is fit to be mayor, why should the rest of us?
In dumping each other, they slimmed up an already slimy process.
(Watch the full debate here.)
The attacks started early and by 30 minutes in we heard from Lewis that Keller was a coddler of criminals, an ineffective state senator, a lover of the ART project and severely ethically challenged.
“Ethics issue seem to follow you wherever you go,” Lewis told Keller at one point. And at least four times he accused Keller of “Putting criminals before law-abiding citizens.”
Lewis also accused Keller of having “walked” on several key votes while in the state Legislature.
Lewis also blamed Keller for the crime problem in the city's International District, the area that Keller used to represent as a state senator, but hasn't lived in for years. And, Lewis also suggested that Keller was a bad person for moving to a nicer neighborhood.
For his part, Keller portrayed Lewis as a failed city councilor who, in eight years in office, has basically presided over the massive increase in crime, who showed zero leadership abilities and who skipped key votes for political reasons.
Keller mentioned the city's “skyrocketing crime and flattening wages,” and then clobbered Lewis with this:
“The bus is going over the cliff and you're asking for a promotion.”
Keller also portrayed Lewis as a hypocrite on the police reform effort and the city's settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which was hypocritical on his part. Lewis has repeatedly said in the past that he was instrumental in bringing the DOJ to Albuquerque but that he wants APD to quickly comply with the settlement agreement so the DOJ can leave town.
“You invited the DOJ here and now you want them out,” Keller said to Lewis in a blatant mischaracterization of his position on the issue.
Lewis wrongly portrayed Keller as an unabashed lover of the ART project because he has said that the city is going to have to do something with it because the $126 million project is nearly complete. Keller has suggested running the ART buses down University to the UNM and CNM areas, and then to the airport.
And Keller has also suggested that if the $69 million in federal grant money for the project doesn't come through, the city sell airport revenue bonds to pay for it. Lewis wrongly portrayed that as Keller wanting to expand the project.
As with most of these forums, if you were looking for direct answers to questions you would have been disappointed, because the candidates rarely actually answered the questions.
An example from Keller on that point was a question about what the term “Sanctuary City” meant and whether he supported Albuquerque being one. Keller babbled on about protecting all the city's families and never really answered. Lewis said he was against sanctuary cities, but never explained what he thought the term meant.
Both candidates miffed on a question on how they would hire hundreds more police officers and how they would pay for them. Lewis talked about throwing an additional $15 million at APD for more officers and for pay raises. But he never said where the money would come from and how he would go about getting all those officers.
Both candidates falsely accused each other of contributing to the high crime rate.
Lewis said at least twice that Keller's old senate district had the highest crime rate in the city. How was that Keller's fault? He was a state senator at the time, not a cop, and not a city councilor.
Keller laid all of APD's current problems at Lewis' feet, saying he had done nothing in eight years as a councilor.
Lewis replied that he was just one of nine councilors and pointed out to Keller that APD's problems were due to a lack of leadership and that the mayor, not the council, hires the police chief.
Lewis scored heavily when he challenged Keller on the PAC that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his candidacy. Keller, who is a publicly-financed candidate, has decried the presence of big money in politics. But the PAC has raised big money from unions and other progressive organizations.
Lewis asked Keller if he still stood by an earlier statement in the campaign that big money was a cancer on the electoral process. Keller said the PAC was legal and that no coordination had occurred between his campaign and the PAC. But he didn't say whether he still though big money was a cancer on the process.
Again, if you actually believed these guys, you would have come away with the impression that they were both horrible people and not qualified to be mayor.
Good job, guys.