The mayor’s race is heated, ugly, never-ending.

And no, we’re not talking about Santa Fe’s upcoming election.

For true gut-wrenching entertainment — though with paltry insight into a city’s tenuous future — you have to look 50 miles south, where a trailing candidate attacked Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller with personal, unsubstantiated and just-one-step-from-slanderous claims in a televised debate Tuesday night.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales did the impossible, reaching new lows — even for a New Mexico campaign.

Gonzales seemed to find the most vile conspiracy theories on social media and repeated them with no proof. Beyond shameful. That debate should end Gonzales’ political future, with plenty of blame going to the consultant who suggested he go rogue.

It also likely secured Keller a first-round win — in Albuquerque, the winner must take more than 50 percent of the vote or face a runoff. So, thanks, Manny!

There’s plenty to question in Keller’s approach to running the state’s largest city. But charging the sitting mayor with nefarious coverups and other dastardly deeds (we’re not repeating them) likely damaged Gonzales for all time. The judgment of a candidate who would do this is forever suspect. The third guy in the race, Eddy Aragon, could only watch in disbelief.

While the mayor’s race descended into absurdity, the city of Albuquerque has plenty of serious business to debate.

Chief among the questions voters will decide is whether to use public dollars to build a $50 million stadium for the wildly popular New Mexico United soccer team.

Yes, the team needs a place to play. The bigger question is whether among the many needs of a city — battling homelessness, reviving downtown, fighting crime — a soccer stadium is an essential.

Across the country, rich owners of sports teams have succeeded at persuading less-rich taxpayers in funding their projects. They promise jobs, economic development and the revitalization of cities.

Those promises often go unfulfilled; the glittering sports palaces are used a few months out of the year and left empty the rest of the time. We doubt Albuquerque will be any different.

The city wants to use gross receipts tax revenue bonds to pay the city’s share, meaning that GRTs repay the bonds rather than property taxes. If the project goes ahead, the city would pay about $3 million a year for the next 25 years.

Or, maybe wealthy team owner Peter Trevisani — whose team has captured the area’s imagination, perhaps because University of New Mexico athletics no longer can — could use his contacts to put together private investors for the stadium and let the city use its dollars for more urgent needs.

Not that it actually matters what voters think. GRT bonds don’t need a signoff from voters; a city council can just approve them.

What the council can’t approve are the $140 million or so in general obligation projects also on the election ballot Nov 2. We’re curious whether any backlash against a stadium will spread to other, more essential projects.

In Albuquerque, the municipal races have turned uglier and the bond elections more complicated. At least that’s the view from Santa Fe, where even with ranked-choice voting, our election — at least in 2021 — seems a breeze.

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