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INDIANAPOLIS — The candidates for Marion County prosecutor were finally able to address the issues plaguing the city of Indianapolis head to head in a public forum on Tuesday.

The forum put on by North Shadeland Alliance had the candidates answering questions in a debate-like event. The topic that dominated the discussion was Indy’s problem with violent crime, but there were also questions asked about low-level marijuana possession and abortion.

“I’ve been very clear about where I stand on those issues,” said incumbent prosecutor Ryan Mears (D). “I don’t think it’s appropriate to continue to prosecute simple possession of marijuana. I don’t think it’s appropriate to prosecute women doctors and nurses (over abortion). We’re going to focus on violent crime. We’re not going to waste time on those other issues.”

His challenger, former state inspector general Cyndi Carassco (R), believes the focus on violent crime from Mears has not been all there.

“The people who got to participate (in the forum) got to see there is a big difference between the prosecutor (Mears) and myself,” she said.

Carrasco’s experience was brought into question during the forum in which she pointed to her time as inspector general. She said she has experience leading a law enforcement agency and understands the ins and outs of implementing policies.

Mears believes his policies on tackling violent crime are working.

“The good thing is you’re seeing homicide numbers are down,” he said. “And our conviction rate on homicide cases has never been better.”

“A poll was done this summer and 77-percent of people in Marion County aid they feel less safe this year than they did last year,” Carrasco said. “All under this current prosecutor’s tenure.”

Homicides overall in 2022 are 16-percent lower than last year. During this week in 2021, there had been 193 homicides. This year there have only been 161 (as of Sept. 19th).

Mears also addressed office staffing concerns. It’s been reported that the prosecutor’s office is hard up for office workers and staff. Mears said that the “great resignation” has hit everyone, but that he feels good about where they are at with staffing in the prosecutor’s office.