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Republican candidate Mark Moores targeted Democratic nominee Melanie Stansbury during a televised debate Tuesday, describing her as a “radical,” primarily for a tweet she sent out last month where she signaled her support for a criminal justice reform proposal.
Stansbury, meanwhile, brushed aside Moores’ remarks and talked about her experience crafting policy at a state and federal level, which she said gives her the skills needed to address the underlying causes of crime, illegal immigration and the state’s economy.
Three candidates vying to fill New Mexico’s vacant 1st Congressional District seat in the House of Representatives – Moores, a state senator, Stansbury, a state representative, and Libertarian Chris Manning – appeared in an hour-long debate hosted by KOB-TV on Tuesday. The candidates were asked questions on public safety, guns, economic development, climate change, border policy and other issues.
But no matter the question, Moores repeatedly referenced a tweet Stansbury posted last month in which she said Congress must pass the BREATHE Act, a legislative proposal promoted by the Movement for Black Lives that calls for drastic changes to America’s criminal justice system.
“Crime is out of control … it has to stop. And, quite frankly, my opponent in the race is part of the problem,” Moores said.
Stansbury never specifically addressed her comments on the BREATHE Act, but she said she believes in taking a comprehensive approach to major issues. She said as a state lawmaker, she coordinated Albuquerque-area legislators’ capital outlay money to pump more money into law enforcement that allowed police to purchase gunshot detection technology and address a rape-kit testing backlog.
“To address Albuquerque’s crime problem, we have to invest in public safety,” she said. “We need to be reforming policing in the city, and we need to be investing in the underlying causes of crime like addiction and behavioral health.”
Manning, who lives in Farmington, offered himself up as an alternative to the two-party system. During a chance to introduce himself, he made a joke about the “Star Wars” franchise. When he was asked about crime, he said police should focus on serious matters instead of broken tail lights and simple tickets.
“These sort of minor, petty offenses, are not what APD should be addressing,” he said. “They should be shifting officers to homicide, to violent crime.”
The candidates were asked about the Biden administration’s temporary moratorium on oil and gas leases and federal lands, and how they would address climate change while also recognizing the role that the extraction industry has on New Mexico’s economy.
Stansbury said it is time to “lean into the renewable energy revolution.”
“We need to diversify our economy long term if we are going to address these challenges,” she said. “That means centering our communities and building on and leaning into our economic strengths throughout the state.”
Manning said nuclear energy and natural gas are the answer.
Moores said the oil and gas industry is crucial to paying for New Mexico schools, roads and police officers.
“We need those new solutions and new technologies as we move forward,” Moores said. “But … people are worried about this radical agenda. They are moving out of the state.”
Early voting in the CD1 election got underway Tuesday. Election Day is June 1. The seat is empty after former Rep. Deb Haaland resigned to serve as secretary of the interior.