Democratic candidates for Lujan Grisham's seat square off in debate
February 26, 2018 11:32 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Seven Democratic candidates are vying for Michelle Lujan Grisham's first congressional district seat.
The primaries aren't until June, but for months candidates have been working to win votes. There is currently one Republican candidate for the seat, Janice Arnold-Jones, but this debate was solely focused on the Democratic candidates.
The latest debate was held Sunday in northeast Albuquerque as those in the race answered questions about gun control, the environment and campaign donations.
Before the event even started, the moderator brought up progressive issues and the need to have someone represent their values in the nation's capital. The conversation started with discussions about climate change and the use of fossil fuels.
Eventually, the conversation turned to money in politics. Every candidate in Sunday's debate said they wouldn’t accept corporate PAC money, vowing to return any donations they may receive.
ON SOLVING GUN VIOLENCE
When it came to gun control – a topic that's formed a substantial part of the national discourse since a gunman killed 17 at a Florida high school earlier this month – candidates also offered up their thoughts.
"I will fight for these issues," Damian Lara said. "I will look them in the eye and I will tell them, 'Never again.'"
Those two words have formed the basis of a movement sweeping the nation after the violence that broke out in Parkland. Candidate Paul Moya called gun violence an epidemic.
"This is an issue we have to address and I don't know if any of you have been watching (Parkland student and activist) Emma Gonzalez and these high school students in Parkland, Florida, but I am so inspired by their actions," he said. "I am so inspired by the fact that they're not backing down."
If elected, the candidates promised that they won't either.
"The presence of a gun in a house with domestic violence increases the likelihood of a death, whether by murder or suicide, by 70 percent. We have too many guns," Antoinette Sedillo Lopez said.
"We need to close all the loopholes for background checks and (provide) more money for behavioral health," Debra Haaland added.
Many also mentioned allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
"We need to study and find out the best ways, and I think we need to start funding it immediately to find out what the most effective things are," Jesse Heitner said.
Damon Martinez said it’s important to keep track of gun violence statistics and hold gun manufacturers accountable.
"Keeping track of what's going on in our society," he said.
Pat Davis suggested looking to laws already in place that will help protect New Mexico's children, as well as children across the country.
"The law that I passed last year was used four times by APD to investigate and arrest offenders who threatened Albuquerque schools with guns before they got on campus," he said. "It's the right message that progressives can lead this conversation."
Updated: February 26, 2018 11:32 AM
Created: February 25, 2018 04:01 PM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved