City councilor seeking re-election launches websites attacking challengers

Computer keyboard and mouse

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Incumbent Don Harris has launched two websites against the men challenging him for the City Council District 9 seat. One highlights a candidate’s arrest record and the other suggest his opponent is a ‘deadbeat dad.’

Councilor Harris has held the District 9 seat since 2005, and he wants to keep it for another four years with the October election. His opponents say he’s getting disturbingly personal and bringing children into the mix to make that happen.

Harris disagrees, and calls what he’s doing ‘fair.’ Harris’s team unveiled two websites attacking his challengers, Byron Powdrell and Paul Ryan McKenney.

“I looked at the [web]site, I was blown away,” Powdrell said.

“Old, dirty politics,” McKenney said of the website.

Both sites poke at the candidate’s own campaign website. Powdrell’s is byronpowdrell.com and McKenney’s is paulryan4abq.com.

The attack sites, with URLs owned by Harris’s team, are realbyronpowdrell.com and realpaulryan4abq.com. It’s the same URL, but with ‘real’ added on the front.

“Those are things that the voters really need to know, I think, before casting their ballots,” Harris said of his websites’ content.

The one against the local radio owner delves into Powdrell’s past arrests for domestic violence and alleged restraining order violations. The website includes criminal complaints and other court documents from the alleged incidents. There’s at least 13 incidents that are examined.

“We think the voters should know that Byron Powdrell has been accused of choking a 13-year-old boy until he became unconscious,” Harris said, “Accused of threatening a woman with a knife.”

“What made it even worse, about the website, was the fact that documents on the website were un-redacted,” Powdrell said in response.

Powdrell says since the website went live over the summer, he’s received phone call threats, been called racial slurs and even had a rock thrown into his house, breaking a window.

Powdrell says the cases against him have all been dismissed or he was found not guilty – and, when asked directly, he says he has never committed domestic violence.

The other website suggests McKenney is a deadbeat dad, with court documents pertaining to child support and his relationship with those kids.

“Mr. McKenney has not paid child support,” Harris claimed, saying the father abandoned two girls. The website questions his fitness to serve as councilor if he isn’t present in his own children’s lives.

“I’m current in my child support payments,” McKenney sad. “It was kind of a messy divorce, but the bottom line is I fulfill all the requirements.”

Both websites also scrutinize the voting records of the two suggesting they did not make their voice heard enough in past elections.

In response, Powdrell and McKenney told KRQE News 13 that like the majority of citizens, they have not voted in every city, school board or other election – sometimes because they didn’t like any of the candidates, which is what inspired them to run.

Both also say they have not released their own attack ads or websites against Harris.

“I don’t care about Don Harris. I care about the people of Albuquerque – the people of District 9,” Powdrell said.

“It’s just the type of politics I think people are tired of and I don’t want to be involved in it,” McKenney said.

Councilor Harris says while he has received some criticism for the websites, he stands by them, telling KRQE News 13 that these men are running for public office, meaning they’re now on a public stage and it should be expected that public records regarding them will come out.

KRQe News 13 asked the incumbent if he has a criminal record. Harris says back in the 80’s, he was arrested in Connecticut for trespassing when he stayed after-hours at a music school, playing the saxophone. New Mexico court records only turn up a 2011 divorce for Harris.

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