Seven mayoral candidates speak at the forum on public safety, housing and the economy

The crowded field of candidates for Indianapolis mayor attended a forum Sunday night. Seven mayoral candidates — Republicans and Democrats — lined up to speak to more than 50 people.

The town hall-like event in a north-east side church covered a variety of issues, beginning with public safety.

Republican candidates Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, a lawyer and journalist, and Pastor James Jackson each said they would reinstate a public safety director.

Republican businessman and former City Councilman Jefferson Shreve said the problem was affecting every other sector.

“If I’m promoted to this position, public safety is the number one job,” Shreve said.

Indianapolis has seen record killings in recent years.

Republican John Couch said the city needs to crack down on murder, rape and crimes against children.

“Crimes we need to be tougher on,” Couch said.

The democrat and activist Clif Marsiglio has a psychological background. He said the root causes of problems like violent crime needed to be addressed.

“I propose that we hire 200 unarmed civilian interviewers who go into the community and focus on mental health issues, substance abuse and homelessness,” Marsiglio said.

Democrat Bob Kern, a permanent candidate, said public safety begins with politics.

“Strong laws protecting our city,” Kern said.

Other topics discussed included housing, business and education.

Democratic candidate Larry Vaughn, also a running candidate, said past mayors have hurt the city economically. He referred to the pandemic shutdown.

“If I’m mayor, our city will never be closed,” Vaughn said.

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Republican Jefferson Shreve said the city must find long-term solutions to problems like housing.

“We cannot build a sustainable program with US bailout money,” Shreve said.

Jackson said he believes faith-based organizations are an untapped resource on the housing issue.

Shabazz said the city’s housing crisis should be addressed through landlord-tenant mediation and other solutions.

“What we have to do is incentivize, remodel, rehabilitate these abandoned properties, because if we do that, people will get homes,” Shabazz said, “and I also agree with Pastor Jackson, we have to teach people about finance. ”

Absent from the event was Democratic State Representative Robin Shackleford, the only woman running for mayor. Acting Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, was also absent.

The event was organized by local non-profit organization Ladies Under Construction.