Sitting in the back of the Albuquerque Press Club—while those around me tippled various sorts of beer, wine and cocktails—certainly did feel like sitting in the midst of a big rock show, waiting for the concert to commence.
And sure enough, Venus and Mars, the classical deities in charge of loving prosperity and war, succinctly symbolized in the personages of Tim Keller and Dan Lewis, were all right that night. But who wants to vote for war, for attack-based proclamations and a scripted tendency to follow along with the nefarious politics of the not-so-great orange one when love of the city and progressive politics will more certainly fill the bill, will provide what this city needs to move away from the dark era of Richard Berry.
Dan Lewis began his appearance at the Albuquerque Press Club candidates’ forum on Thursday Oct. 26 with a bit of panache. Dressed in a crisp, new blue suit, Lewis certainly looked mayoral. As the event progressed, however, he seemed to grow irritated and soon began what amounted to an hour-long attack on Keller—the candidate and the person—in a manner that mirrored many of the personal attacks that Donald Trump made against his opponent in the presidential election of 2016.
At one point, Lewis seemed to grow fixated on Keller’s involvement in state legislation that aimed to set standards for the living arrangements of convicted sex offenders, legislation that would give the state of New Mexico aegis in making determinations about where such felons should live, without the oversight of city government.
The Republican City Councilman conflated Keller’s support of this merely bureaucratic bill with an inherent support of sex offenders. This dangerous mischaracterization is obviously being used as a scare tactic to distract and frighten citizens from the real issues facing our city.
Further, similar accusations were leveled against Keller by a group who bought attack ads before the general election. It turns out the folks behind this attempt at distraction and chaos-sowing are developers and land owners deeply involved in making sure that the proposed Santolina mega-development west of town will move forward and is profitable for them.
The fact that Lewis indulged these land-hungry cretins is clear evidence that he is more comfortable dealing with wealthy outsiders than with actual, working citizens of the Duke City. Lewis’ attempt to connect Keller to the worst type of criminals is shameful and should be a clear sign to voters that the Councilor takes his cues from the gloomy play book utilized by Trump and his minions.
Meanwhile, Tim Keller dressed casually in a sweater and penny-loafers, took command of the evening by affably talking about policies that will bring this city back from the brink. Swatting Lewis’ crude admonitions aside with wit and composure, Keller spent his part of the hour-long gathering discoursing on the issues, while reminding Lewis that his schtick was becoming a tirade.
Keller talked at length about his plans for Burque, including investing in local business and infrastructure, providing workers with a workable form of sick leave and reestablishing active community policing in order to help stem crime in the city. More importantly, his calm composure in the face of Lewis’ relentless and untoward attacks demonstrated that Keller has what it takes to be a leader of a city of more than 500,000 disparate voices.
If the meeting of minds at the APC had any significance, then it was to show which candidate is fit to be mayor. Lewis is not so much desperate as he is a cookie-cutter follower of a dangerous and unfit president, a man who, when overcome by irascible emotions, is capable of the most unethical and ill-conceived attacks possible.
Keller, graceful, articulate, full of genuinely proactive ideas and unwilling to give credence to such awful political behavior, is determined to lead Albuquerque into the third decade of the 21st century. Citizens of Albuquerque should not only give him that opportunity, but Burqueños should also use their vote to tell Republicans and members of the right wing that enough is enough: We will no longer tolerate these blows against democracy and fairness that you carry like a cudgel, warlike, against fellow Americans who seek peace, love and a living, thriving future.