Mayoral candidates take shots at Berry during forum

Posted at: 09/05/2013 5:37 PM
Updated at: 09/06/2013 9:02 AM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry got a lot of attention at a candidate forum Thursday afternoon without even showing up.

The event was sponsored by the firefighters union, but held in the Carpenters Union Hall. Berry's chair sat empty through the whole thing while challengers Pete Dinelli and Paul Heh took turns taking shots at his record.

"I'm talking to an empty chair here once again," said Heh, a retired city police sergeant. " Every forum I go to the mayor doesn't show up unless it's put on by his so-called friends. Well, I consider everybody in this city a friend of mine."

"That empty chair is a reflection of the empty leadership Albuquerque has had for the last three and a half years," said Dinelli, a former city public safety director. "My goal is to turn this city around."

Heh and Dinelli both said they would appoint new police and fire chiefs, if elected.  Both men said they would not privatize public safety. Both said they support labor unions.

The firefighters union is part of a political action committee that has run a TV ad attacking Berry, who told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he doesn't duck debates if they're fair.

"I felt like today's event was designed by folks who are on the political spectrum that are fighting us in the mayoral campaign, who wanted to make a TV event," Berry said in an interview later in the day. "Here we are on TV talking so I guess they accomplished their mission."

There will be more debates, including an hour-long forum on KOB on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m.