“I believe I have a track record. I’m not running from my record,” Johnson said Thursday during a mayoral forum organized and hosted by the New Mexico Utility Contractors Association. “I’m not trying to give you bold solutions, or, as I call them, BS,” he added, an apparent reference to City Councilor Lewis’ platform, which includes enacting “bold, new solutions.”
Later, in response to a question about infrastructure spending, Johnson, a county commissioner, said, “You don’t pass a budget that has a $4.5 million gap in it. That affects your bond rating, and if your bond rating goes down, then you’re paying more to borrow money to do infrastructure projects. The city recently passed – I won’t mention any names, but there might be a councilor here today – … recently overrode a veto from the mayor, and in effect passed a budget that was broken, $4.5 million under water.”
Responding to the digs, Lewis at one point said, “When you’re behind in the polls, you criticize other opponents, and it’s a sad campaign. I’m going to talk about real solutions for the city.”
The mayoral forum showcased Johnson, Lewis, state Auditor Tim Keller, a Democrat, and Brian Colón, the former chairman of the state Democratic Party. Organizers said they invited those candidates because they have the highest name recognition.
Johnson and Republican businessman Ricardo Chaves were no-shows at a separate forum on Thursday evening hosted by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party. Mayoral candidates attending were Keller; Colón; Lewis; Democrat Gus Pedrotty, a recent University of New Mexico graduate; independent Susan Wheeler-Deichsel, founder of the civic group Urban ABQ; and independent Michelle Garcia Holmes, former chief of staff for the state Attorney General’s Office and a retired Albuquerque police detective.
Candidates were asked if they would support a quarter cent gross receipts tax for public safety.
Wheeler-Deichsel said she would if voters approved it. Keller, Colón and Pedrotty said they would if it were necessary and if voters signed off on it, though Pedrotty argued the city would save money by effectively staffing the police department.
Lewis and Garcia Holmes said no. Lewis said the city needs to better prioritize its resources. Garcia Holmes said “we’re taxed to death,” adding that the money likely wouldn’t get to where it was needed.
Election day is Oct. 3.