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Gun laws, transgender rights spark Keller-Lewis exchanges

We’ve previously reported on the clashes between City Councilor Dan Lewis and state Auditor Tim Keller during Sunday’s Congregation Albert mayoral debate, but there were a few other notable exchanges.

Metro BeatOne of them came after candidates were asked about gun violence.

Keller, a former Democratic state senator whose legislative district included the city’s International District, said there are sensible things that can be done to curb gun violence.

“There’s a difference between being anti-gun and actually doing everything you can to keep our community safe,” he said, noting that he had a B+ National Rifle Association record in the Legislature.

He suggested clamping down on the online resale of guns by buyers who don’t want to register those firearms. He said the city also needs to come down on convicted criminals caught with illegal firearms.

Mayoral candidates Tim Keller and Dan Lewis

Lewis said the Legislature should tack on a 10-year sentence for violent felons who use guns and enact three-strikes legislation for repeat offenders.

“Tim had 10 years in the Senate to get that done” but didn’t, Lewis said. He also suggested bringing back the death penalty for child murderers and cop killers, adding that Keller voted to do away with the death penalty.

“I love that I was in the Legislature for 10 years. I was only there for six. It felt like 10,” Keller responded, amid laughter from the audience. “… If those are your solutions to gun violence, run for the state Legislature,” he told Lewis, adding that he wants to focus on things the city can do. Keller said that includes such things as adequately funding Albuquerque Police Department detectives, who build cases against criminals. He charged that the City Council hasn’t done that.

Transgender rights: Another notable exchange came when the candidates were asked to explain their positions on the rights of transgender people.

“I’m proud to say that I have been supportive of equality and social justice for folks regardless of their faith or their choices or their gender preference,” Keller said. “I was a supporter of gay marriage before when people were trying to parse it with civil union, and it’s because I just believe in people’s (rights) to be who they want to be.”

Lewis – who last month was endorsed by Legacy Church pastor Steve Smothermon because he “could never in any way support the homosexual agenda” – agreed with Keller.

“There’s nothing that Tim just said that really I disagree with, other than my personal faith and personal feelings, which everybody has in this city,” Lewis said. “Everybody has a lot of different feelings and certainly different convictions about that. But everything he just said about being inclusive, about treating people exactly the same way is extremely important. I have a record of treating people fairly and treating people the same, no matter who you are.”

Martin Salazar: msalazar@abqjournal.com

 

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