As the first mayoral candidate forum kicked off Jan. 6, notably absent was city councilor and mayoral candidate Bill Dimas.

While Councilor Patti Bushee and former Santa Fe Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales fielded questions from the Neighborhood Network, Dimas didn't attend.

And don't look for him at any future similar events. Over the weekend, Dimas announced that he would not participate in any of the planned public forums, stating in a newspaper ad that most are sponsored by "special interest groups" and feature "planted questions" from audience members made to make certain candidates look good.

If the strategy sounds familiar, it's because state Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, used it successfully in his 2012 bid for the state legislature. At the time, Trujillo portrayed himself as an outsider running against the "machine" politics of his opponent and Santa Fe Mayor David Coss.

Coss, who was criticized by some for, at the time, seeking to serve the state legislature and the mayor's office simultaneously, nevertheless gained key endorsements from the likes of organized labor and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-Santa Fe.

Coss' efforts that year came up short, though he won the precincts within Santa Fe, where most of the forums that Trujillo skipped were held.

The city election is March 4. Another forum for mayoral candidates is planned for 6:30 pm, Jan. 13 at the Forum on the campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.