Forum for democratic candidates for South Bend mayor held at IUSB

NOW: Forum for democratic candidates for South Bend mayor held at IUSB

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The race to replace South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is underway as he eyes a run for the White House.

Tuesday, most of the candidates running in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary, met face to face for the first time at IU South Bend.

It was a wide ranging discussion covering issues from economic development to jobs, crime, education and homelessness.

There are nine democrats in the race but only seven of them showed up.

Shane Inez chose not to participate and Will Smith is actually behind bars arrested early Tuesday for allegedly stealing an rv, but the forum went on without them.

The auditorium at Northside Hall on campus at IU South Bend was packed. The school’s American Democracy Project and the League of Women Voters hosted the candidates forum.

After the name placard and chair meant for small businessman Will Smith were removed from the dais, each candidate got to tell voters why they want to take over for Mayor Pete Buttigieg - starting with retired South Bend Police Officer Lynn Coleman who said, “I want to help make sure that we create communities, neighborhoods where everybody has an opportunity to have decent affordable housing.”

Former St. Joe County Democratic Party Chairman Jason Chritchlow talked about tackling crime telling the crowd, “I’m really excited that we have a thriving growing downtown but just imagine we also have revitalized neighborhoods;  we have a strong and healthy public school system and we’re a safer community that’s what the people of South Bend want.”

6th District Common Councilman Oliver Davis focused on education and basic city services saying, “I want to make sure that we are taking care of our streets and making sure that our snow is plowed on a timely basis. I think that’s the key thing when we look at the goals we have to have from day one.”

James Mueller has the endorsement of Mayor Buttigieg and worked as his chief of staff and executive director of community investment saying he wants to continue their progress, “We must make South Bend a place where everyone can thrive from young professionals just starting their careers to families with children and retirees.  I’m running for mayor because we have a lot more to do and we can’t stop now.”

Violent crime is something 21-year-old Clay High School grad Salvador Rodriguez says he wants to address, “I believe that the violence here in the city has gotten out of control and we need to control that as soon as possible.”

2nd District Common Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston told the crowd she would continue her fight to improve local neighborhoods and include the community, “Engaging everyone no matter their income race gender or any single factor and prioritizing investment and addressing vital social issues like affordable housing, safer streets, access to quality education and income equity.”

And Richard Wright, who works with the downtown South Bend Ambassadors Program, says jobs are a top priority adding, “I’d like to see more business incubators here kind of like Notre Dame has set up...I’d like to get rid of the slumlords that have housing stock in Mishawaka and South Bend.”

Whoever wins the May 7th Democratic Party primary will face the only republican candidate in the race Sean Haas come November.


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