ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The three men looking to win Albuquerque's vote in a little more than a week squared off in a debate Monday for the final time.
The debate, hosted by KNME and moderated by Gene Grant, was wide-ranging and covered everything from water issues to a proposed citywide late-term abortion ban. But the top two issues seemed to be the economy and APD.
The three candidates presented different views of where the city's economy stands right now and different visions for how to improve it going forward.
Republican Mayor R.J. Berry is tying a lot of his hopes to a collaboration with UNM.
"This is the idea of taking research from the University of New Mexico and taking that to market for commercialization," Berry said. "That has wonderful opportunities."
Democratic challenger Pete Dinelli, the city's former public safety director, pointed to his plan, Energize ABQ, which calls for expanding the Sunport and trying to recruit companies.
"We need to focus on attracting new industry to the Albuquerque area, industry such as the health care industry as well as transportation," Dinelli said.
Republican Paul Heh, a retired APD sergeant, also wants to recruit new companies and pitched improving career and job training through trade schools as a way to improve the local workforce.
"Caterpillar, for instance, is looking for diesel mechanics and they can't find 'em," Heh claimed. "A diesel mechanic makes north of $80,000 a year. That's not a bad paycheck."
One of the most contentious issues was APD as it's been most of the campaign.
"You know that you're not safe in your own homes, wondering if your home's going to be the same way or wondering whether it's going to be burglarized when you get home," Heh said.
Dinelli said, "Now we have a situation where we've lost over 200 police officers and I submit to you it's because of the poor management of the Albuquerque Police Department by Mr. Berry and his administration."
Berry countered saying, "Last year, while violent crime went up around the country, it went down in the city of Albuquerque. We had some fixing to do after Mr. Dinelli left, certainly."
Polls commissioned by the Albuquerque Journal and political blogger Joe Monahan indicate Berry has a comfortable lead at this point.
An Albuquerque Journal poll released a few weeks ago showed Berry with 63 percent support, trailed by Dinelli with 18 percent and Heh with 2 percent. The latest poll released on Monahan's site last week showed Berry polling at 62 percent with Dinelli at 26 percent support and Heh with 5 percent.
Election day is Oct. 8. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff election in November.
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