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Candidates for governor in forum on transparency

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – All five of New Mexico’s candidates for governor will face questions about government transparency during a first-of-its-kind forum on Sunday at KNME studios.

The Foundation for Open Government, a nonpartisan group, is sponsoring the event, which will be streamed online.

“An open and transparent government is critical to a democratic society and to a free press,” said Charles “Kip” Purcell, an attorney and former FOG president who will help moderate the forum.

He and Kathi Bearden, also a former FOG president and former publisher of the Hobbs News-Sun, will serve as moderators as the candidates respond to questions about their beliefs and positions on open and transparent government.

Four Democrats and one Republican will participate in the forum:

• Jeff Apodaca, an Albuquerque Democrat and former television executive.

• State Sen. Joseph Cervantes, a Las Cruces Democrat and lawyer.

• Peter DeBenedittis, a Santa Fe Democrat and political outsider.

• U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, an Albuquerque Democrat.

• U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Hobbs Republican.

The race is wide open, because Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is finishing her second consecutive term and cannot run for re-election this year.

Visit to view the forum as it happens or to catch up on the archived version later. It will also be posted on YouTube, though not immediately.

The forum, the first 2018 gubernatorial forum dedicated to transparency and featuring Democratic and Republican candidates together, starts at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Partners in the forum are Common Cause New Mexico, the New Mexico Press Association, the New Mexico Broadcasters Association and KNME.

The forum will include transparency questions regarding the names of those seeking public employment, juvenile criminal court records, the names of legislators who sponsor capital outlay projects, State Police reports and recordings made at crime scenes and whether all public business should be conducted on state e-mail accounts.

Transparency is a perennial issue at the Roundhouse and in state government.

Just this year, proposals to audit the Sunshine Portal to ensure state agencies are publishing the records they’re required to, speed up the disclosure of sexual harassment settlements and impose new reporting requirements on lobbyists failed to win approval from either the Legislature or governor.

The state did approve a law that will shed more light on the contingency fund governors get for social events.