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South Bend voters weigh in on issues at ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum

NOW: South Bend voters weigh in on issues at ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On Thursday, St. Joseph County voters listened to close to 40 candidates at a ‘Meet the Candidates’ forum.

Nearly 250 people packed inside the St. Joseph County Library to heat pitches from candidates running for City of South Bend mayor, common council, and city clerk. Voter Daniel Rooney said obviously he can read about candidates and see them on TV but there’s something to be said getting to see people up close.

He said he is looking for someone who knows South Bend and has ideas on how to continue the city’s economic growth.

“I don’t really have a specific platform that I’m looking for,” he said “Just kind of trying to evaluate experience and character at this point.”

Rooney will be casting his ballot in May’s primary race, which narrows voters choices in the November general election. However, voter turnout in St. Joseph County for previous primary elections has been low.

The county had a 15 percent voter turnout in 2011 and 6 percent in 2014.

Roger Pinto, with the American Democracy Project, said it’s not the same turnout for state and national elections.

“It’s usually a little bit lower,” he said. “But based on some of the events we’ve had so far we’re seeing the same type of turnout we saw during those congressional races.”

Many of the candidates on Thursday night said South Bend is on a nation stage with current Mayor Pete Buttigieg possibly making a run for the presidency. But tonight voter Carl Hetler said he’s interested in a candidate who tackles the issues that directly affect South Bend.

“Not just as a resident but the pastor of Broadway Christian Parish it’s important to have someone coordinate all the different homeless services in the city,” Hetler said.

Calvin Poindexter, South Bend Common Council District 2 candidate, and Will Smith, South Bend mayoral candidate, were not at the forum on Thursday. Smith, who’s in some legal trouble in Indiana and California, e-mailed the American Democracy Project saying he wish he could’ve been there.

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