Indy mayoral candidates address potholes, public safety, economy during Thursday’s forum

Data pix.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Around 100 people gathered at the Indiana Landmarks Center on Central Avenue Thursday to hear from the three candidates vying for the mayor's seat. That included Incumbent and Democrat Joe Hogsett, Republican Jim Merritt and Libertarian Douglas McNaughton.

We are just 47 days away from the election. This forum gave the candidates 15 minutes to address the audience and about an hour for them to answer questions.

People asked about everything from potholes and public safety to electronic billboards and whether the candidates agreed with the county's ordinance to ban them. Each of them gave separate answers for why they believe they are the person for the job.

After drawing names, McNaughton approached the microphone first. He stated his job as an automation engineer gives him the opportunity to travel the world.

He said he's "seen the city at its best, [he's] seen it at its not so best." In his 30 years living in Indianapolis, he said as a Libertarian and a "general observer around the world" he sees room for improvement.

"I see things that can be improved over what they are currently, and that's why I'm running for mayor," McNaughton said. "I think I could do a great job and introduce some new ideas, some out-of-the box thinking, maybe some approaches that other people haven't considered because it's not an approach they would normally see."

Then, Hogsett walked the audience through where the city and county leadership were when they took office on January 1, 2016. He said both the Democratic and Republican caucuses put aside their differences to work together to address the problems they faced in the areas of "understaffed and poorly equipped public safety agencies, road infrastructure straining under decades of underfunding and a budget deficit that threatened to destroy the city's credit rating, and bankrupt whole departments of our city by 2019."

He gave credit to the people serving alongside of him saying they "never wavered" and told the audience under his leadership, city leaders offered a balanced budget for three consecutive years, along with a $400 million infrastructure plan.

Lastly, Merritt approached the microphone and quickly began talking about public safety. He said if he is elected mayor, there will be a public safety director who is an expert in fire, ambulance and law enforcement.

"Somebody that will be at my side 24/7 and I find that to be very, very important," Merritt said. "Right now, our heroes in the law enforcement IMPD, 80% of their day is paperwork and 20% is law enforcement. We all know we need better recruiting, we need better equipment and we need better everything at IMPD."

Merritt said he will be available to any police officer at any time. He said he wants "the chief of police who I'll name to be out in the community working and being current."

After the candidates finished their statements, they took several questions from audience members. They wanted to know about electric scooters, gentrification, how the candidates planned on dealing with potholes and even how the three men would separately help all neighborhoods regardless of location.

FOX59 is televising the October 28 mayoral debate. You can find those details out here.

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