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The Vileness Of Closed-Door Candidate Forums

The Vileness Of Closed-Door Candidate Forums

Candidates should follow Michelle Garcia Holmes' lead and refuse to attend any closed-door forum that isn't open to the public.

At least one mayoral candidate had the guts to say no to the vileness that is part of this year’s campaign, and which has been a big part of past campaigns.

Michelle Garcia Holmes said no to the idea that a few wannabe oligarchs and kingmakers can exclude the public from hearing what candidates have to say, and that they alone get to make decisions about this city’s future.

In boycotting the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce‘s board-members only candidate forum on July 27, Garcia Holmes showed that at least she has a conscience and isn’t a pathetic slave to would-be powers in this town.

If only the other candidates had as much courage as she did.

Here’s a dirty secret about many of these mayoral forums.

They are often members-only affairs where neither the public nor the press is invited. Thus they are merely ways for the clique and club members to decide who they want to support and throw money behind. And that’s how tiny clubs and cliques wind up running this place. They give their support and money to a certain candidate and then have influence over them.

And they have a lot more influence than you or I.

Actually, you and I have no influence. The clubs and cliques have it all, and that’s sick.

Earlier this week, the Greater Albuquerque Inkeepers Association had a candidate forum. It was apparently for members only, and it wasn’t advertised, as far as I can tell, and I doubt that any members of the news media were invited. A massive 80 to 90 people attended.

So it was all a chummy, little gathering where members of a somewhat influential club had access to the candidates, and not the public.

That the candidates attended this closed-door event is shameful. That they attended the Chamber’s forum is worse.

In fact, it’s disturbing, because with the exception of Garcia Holmes, the candidates let themselves be bought. And I’m not talking about the lunches they got. They let themselves be lured into the little circle of alleged power brokers.

Why did the Chamber hold a forum only for the benefit of its 64 board members at its tiny Downtown offices?

So they, these self-important people could chat with the candidates personally.

Every month the Chamber holds a luncheon at an Uptown hotel. It usually draws 300 to 500 people. So why didn’t the Chamber have the mayoral forum at one of its monthly meetings where hundreds of people would have heard the candidates?

The candidates should follow Garcia Holmes’ lead and refuse to attend any closed-door forum that isn’t open to the public and isn’t advertised. And they shouldn’t attend a forum that the news media isn’t invited to.

But that probably won’t happen. Why?

Because the people in these cliques and clubs have money, and the candidates need campaign contributions.

In other words, they care more about money and donors than they do about us. And do you think any candidate that gets endorsed by one of these little cliques is going to ever criticize them?

Here are some ideas for special-interest forums in the future.

How about a forum in front of the thousands and thousands of this city’s crime victims? Wouldn’t that be fun for the candidates?

Or one in front of the tens of thousands of victims of this city’s economic stagnation?

How about a special forum of people who’ve fled Albuquerque to escape crime or find better jobs? They’d number in the tens of thousands. And they wouldn’t be shy about telling the candidates how sick this city has become. Of course, no candidate would want to attend a forum like that. Too messy.

There could be a forum in front of foreclosed homeowners. They’d number in the thousands and probably ask some hard questions and have some angry comments.

Maybe we could have a forum in front of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck?

Naah. They don’t have any money. No candidate would attend.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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3 Comments

  • Stella Padilla
    July 28, 2017, 5:12 pm

    When we take the "money" out of politics, we (the people) may finally have a chance at survival.

    REPLY
  • Bill Peifer
    July 31, 2017, 10:22 am

    The forum that was put on by the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County was open to the public and press and was advertised as fully as possible. All eight qualified candidates, regardless of political affiliation, were invited, although only six showed up. The event was attended by about 250 people . . . mostly Democrats, but quite a few Republicans and Independents as well . . . and viewed via live-streaming by 1,444 others. Over 1,000 have since watched the recorded version.

    REPLY
  • Bill Peifer
    July 31, 2017, 10:22 am

    The forum that was put on by the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County was open to the public and press and was advertised as fully as possible. All eight qualified candidates, regardless of political affiliation, were invited, although only six showed up. The event was attended by about 250 people . . . mostly Democrats, but quite a few Republicans and Independents as well . . . and viewed via live-streaming by 1,444 others. Over 1,000 have since watched the recorded version.

    REPLY
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