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Seven contenders for mayor of Indianapolis debate crucial issues at a forum



Indianapolis, Indiana – At a discussion, seven candidates for mayor of Indianapolis spoke about their plans to address the major problems the city is now experiencing.

Three Democrats, Bob Kern, Clif Marsiglio, and Larry Vaughn, along with four Republicans, John Couch, James Jackson, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, and Jefferson Shreve, attended the event at First Trinity Church. Joseph Hogsett, the current mayor, and state representative Robin Shackleford did not attend.

Founder of Women Under Construction and moderator of the mayoral forum Aleanya Moore said, “It’s about bringing the community together because we all come from different walks of life.”

The discussion on crime and criminal justice was the first. Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, a Republican, promised to reinstate the Public Safety Director and toughen punishments in “economically challenged zones.”

“It’s not so much that it’s a higher sentence but it’s a sentence enhancer. Just like if you commit a crime against a senior citizen it’s a criminal enhancement,” Shabazz said.

Democratic candidate Larry Vaughn favors the appointment of commissioners to oversee public safety funds in order to lower crime rates.

“He should not be encumbered by any murder rate being blamed on him but what he can do without help from the state legislature is appoint a commissioner to receive the actual public safety funding,” Vaughn said.

John Couch, a Republican, emphasized education as a strategy for reducing crime in the city.

“You can almost do everyone in the city of Indianapolis to take a listening skills class which will help them with a lot of issues that are going on in their life and cause you talk to yourself more than anybody else during the day,” Couch said.

Moreover, candidates talked about housing. According to Republican candidate James Jackson, one aspect of addressing the housing crisis and financial education is making sure people have access to jobs with sustainable pay.

“Making sure that folks are not spending more than 30% of their income on their rent or mortgage. And that’s what’s driving a lot of this homelessness is when people’s incomes are being eaten up by what they have to pay for housing,” Jackson said.

About Section 8 housing, there was some disagreement between a member of the audience and Democrat Bob Kern. There aren’t enough spaces for those with Section 8 vouchers, according to a woman who claimed to work with people in public housing. What he would do to resolve this was a concern of hers.

“I know as Mayor of Indianapolis this money will not be misappropriated it will go to where it is supposed to go,” Kern said. “It will go towards making sure each and every family have housing.”

Cliff Marsiglio, a Democrat, pointed out that the mayor’s authority over housing is constrained.

“We need to rethink what we can do as a city. With a land bank when you go to sell your house you have to sell it for no more than 120% of what you paid for it. And they make sure it’s going back to someone who needs affordable housing,” Marsiglio said.

Also, candidates discussed the economy. According to Republican Jefferson Shreve, the mayor must concentrate on the economy.

“Our household income level is not growing in Marion County like it is in our donut counties. The Mayor’s gotta sell it. You’ve gotta bring that investment into our capital city. That’s the job,” Shreve said.

On May 2, during the Primary, voters will have the opportunity to express their opinions.

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