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#abq4ward: Candidates discuss plans for city's future at town hall

KOB.com Web Staff
September 15, 2017 10:27 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The eight people running to be Albuquerque's next mayor explained their visions for the city's future during the #abq4ward Mayoral Town Hall at Central New Mexico Community College's Smith Brasher Hall.

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In partnership with the nonprofit public policy organization New Mexico First, the town hall took questions formulated by public consensus earlier in the day at four separate community centers throughout the city.

The debate kicked off with a problem many are concerned about:  the lack of hundreds of police officers.

"First we have to rebuild the morale in the Police Department," Brian Colón said. "Look we will not have 1200 officers if we don't change the culture. We have to make sure that everyone knows that APD is on its way to become the gold standard for law enforcement. Like it once was."

"I believe there are good officers," Dan Lewis said. "And also we can attract lateral officers. In my administration, we will be very aggressive in attracting lateral officers to APD. We have one of the best pensions, one of the best retirements for our officers in the nation."

With the skyrocketing crime problem, candidates were asked about APD's relationship with the community and public trust.

"And community outreach is extremely important for law enforcement so we can bridge that gap," Michelle Garcia Holmes said.

"We have to reorient the entire police department around community policing, and that's not a word we just throw around," Tim Keller said. "That's a manual of policies and procedures and beliefs."

Gun violence was a key issue. It raised questions surrounding law and order and gun ownership.

"Guns do not commit crime on their own. There are people associated with those weapons," Wayne Johnson said. "And if we're going to solve crime in this city, we are going to need tougher laws."

"I'm for the Second Amendment," Ricardo Chavez said. "I think citizens have to be able to protect themselves because it seems like the police aren't doing a very good job of it in Albuquerque."

"Criminal behavior, almost all of guns used in the course of crimes are illegals guns that were often stolen or stolen and repurchased from people who either lost their guns or cars places like that," Susan Wheeler-Deichsel said.

Troubled neighborhoods also highlighted the debate. Some talked about redeveloping vacant lots to improve the city.

"We know that we have to have to repurpose those in some shape and form," Gus Pedrotty said. "If that's using them for housing, great If that creating mixed use amenities also, terrific. Because if we have more services in a community, we're going to see more community out and about."

Candidates also fielded questions about the Department of Justice reforms and ways to steer children away from crime. While many had different approaches to solving our crime epidemic, all agreed it's time for a change and new leadership.

Voters across Albuquerque will descend on the polls on Oct. 3. To read more about the individual candidates, click here.

A COMMUNITY-DRIVEN FORUM

Hundreds of ABQ residents applied to get involved. New Mexico First screened them all, asking them questions about their involvement with campaigns to make sure we have balanced groups of participants.

Then they split them into four groups by neighborhood and met with New Mexico First staff to discuss the issues they're most concerned about and to consolidate those into questions ahead of the 7 p.m. event.

In screening the applicants, New Mexico First says they're all invested in the community.

Credits

KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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