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7 Indianapolis mayoral candidates discuss key issues in forum

7 Indianapolis mayoral candidates discuss key issues in forum found at WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana Traffic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Seven Indianapolis mayoral candidates gathered for a forum to discuss how they would solve key issues the city is facing.

Four Republicans, John Couch, James Jackson, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz and Jefferson Shreve, along with three Democrats, Bob Kern, Clif Marsiglio and Larry Vaughn, attended the forum at First Trinity Church. State Representative Robin Shackleford and incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett did not attend.

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

The forum started with crime and criminal justice. Republican Abdul-Hakim Shabazz said he would bring back the Public Safety Director and increase penalties 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.

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Democratic Candidate Larry Vaughn wants to see commissioners put in place to manage public safety funds to help with the 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.

Republican John Couch highlighted education as a way to help battle 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.

Candidates also discussed housing. Republican candidate James Jackson says that ensuring people have access to jobs with livable wages is one part of fixing the housing crisis and financial education.

“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 is being eaten up by what they have to pay for housing,” Jackson said.

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There was some friction between an audience member and Democrat Bob Kern regarding Section 8 housing. A woman who identified herself as working with those in public housing said there are not enough places for those with Section 8 vouchers. She questioned what he would do to solve this.

“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 has housing.”

Democrat Cliff Marsiglio noted the mayor has limited powers when it comes to housing.

“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.

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Candidates also commented on the economy. Republican Jefferson Shreve said the mayor needs to be focused 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.

Voters will have the chance to make their voices heard during the May 2 Primary.

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