INDIANAPOLIS–Creating more opportunities for black people and having a better education system in Marion County were just a couple of the many topics discussed in the first Indianapolis Mayoral debate between Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett and his Republican challenger Jefferson Shreve on Sunday night.
The debate was put on by the African American Coalition of Indianapolis (AACI) in partnership with the Indianapolis Recorder and Radio One. The first question was for both candidates to explain how they differ from one another since they both are similar in physical appearance and have ideas that don’t differ all that much, especially when it comes to gun control.
“If distinction is needed, I’m the one with the busted lip. Jefferson is not,” said Hogsett. Hogsett busted his lip when he was taking out the trash last week and had to get stitches. It also forced him to miss several public events he had scheduled.
Shreve said that as a candidate he has plans while Hogsett has a record that is not favorable as mayor. He promised to engage and talk with the community more than Hogsett has during his time as Mayor. Hogsett first took over as mayor in 2016 and was re-elected to a second term in 2019.
Police and Crime
Hogsett has added 700 new officers to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department during his 8 years as mayor, but IMPD is still about 300 officers short of the number that’s been budgeted to get them to fully staffed. Both candidates were asked what they would do to get more officers at IMPD.
“My focus will be on the retention on our veteran officers first and prioritizing retention over recruitment. We’ve lost more than we’ve gained. We need leadership that buttresses our department and provides them with the tools to do their jobs. I will help make that happen,” said Shreve.
Hogsett was quick to point out he has hired half of the IMPD officers in the last 8 years.
“Unlike when I first got into office, now we have the money. That’s why we’ve raised the pay of first and second year officers. That’s why we’ve taken steps to reward our veteran officers,” said Hogsett.
Both candidates said they would do all they could to hire more women and minorities to be on the police force so that the officers can more accurately reflect the people who live in Indianapolis and Marion County.
As for improving the relationship between the police and the black community, Hogsett says he’s been proactive in that regard.
“For the first time, every patrol officer now has a body worn camera. That was never the case until the Hogsett administration. We did not have a use of force policy prior to the Hogsett administration. We now have that,” said Hogsett.
Shreve says the rollout of the technology by Hogsett has been “too slow.”
“We have a gunshot detection system in our east district after we trialed three different types of technology that is not working,” said Shreve.
There are about 60 charter schools in Indianapolis. More than half of the students who live within the Indianapolis Public Schools district. Many of those students are black. Both candidates were asked if they would get rid of charter schools.
“I am an advocate of charter schools and moreover for the parental choice for the public school avenue that their children take. Their continuance needs to be driven by quality metrics, but their closures when they don’t meet those metrics need to be precipitated in a humane fashion for those students that are midstream in those schools,” said Shreve.
Hogsett said his administration has set high expectations for charter schools and held operators accountable, focusing on quality over quantity of schools.
“If the students are not being well-served, we take action,” he said.
Shreve said he would put tax caps on property taxes, particularly for older people who live on fixed incomes, so that they would not be removed as those neighborhoods develop.
“We can have development in our neighborhoods without displacement,” Shreve said.
When it comes to homelessness, Hogsett said he moved the city to a Housing First policy in 2016, increased permanent supportive housing units by 89%, and is creating a new low-barrier shelter and Housing Hub to help unhoused residents around the clock.
Shreve said he would continue the efforts to create the new shelter while doing some damage-control with neighbors in the Fountain Square neighborhood where the shelter is to be built.
The next debate for both candidates will be October 23rd on WISH-TV, and then again on the 26th on CBS4 and Fox59. The WISH-TV debate will be the first televised Indianapolis mayoral debate in almost 20 years.
Election Day is November 7.
You can listen to the full debate below.
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