Hogsett, Merritt talk policy in 1st mayoral debate

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —Thursday, Democratic incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett and Republican challenger, State Senator Jim Merritt discussed their respective visions for Indianapolis during their first debate at the Indy Chamber’s 2019 Hob Nob.

Many residents wanted the candidates to discuss public safety and what the next mayor will do about gun violence.

The Republican opponent let voters know what he thinks about the current mayor’s policies.

“It hasn’t worked, it hasn’t worked,” Merritt emphasized! “You’ve had three and half years. What you’re doing is not working!”

Merritt is proposing instead to better train officers and recruit more of them. His top solution for gun violence is to bring on a deputy mayor of public safety. When pressed by FOX59 about funding for this position and office, he could not detail how he would pay for this.

“Progress is being made and it’s because of the investments we have made over the last four years,” said Hogsett, who defended his policies on gun violence during his term in office.

The mayor said he’ll double down on his work, and FOX59 pressed him on how he’ll do it.

“Specifically implementing a currently piloted body camera program, which is another addition to, I think, a community-based policing approach,” he said, while adding that he would also increase the police force, better train officers, and add more equipment as technology advances.

Another big topic during the debate was jobs and economic development, as nearly 20 percent of Indianapolis’ residents live in poverty.

“It’s all about a focus —not so much on the quantity of jobs, although more jobs are always a priority, but actually looking at the quality of those jobs,” the mayor explained.

“Any economic development deal has to be good for the city of Indianapolis. And you do have the incentives there,” Merritt said.

FOX59 later followed up and asked what economic policy plans the state senator currently has.

“The RCA plant was taken down and there’s a pad there,” he answered. “I think that we ought to give the opportunity to developers to develop the property, but in concert with what the neighborhood wants.”

The candidates will meet again one week before Election Day for another debate on FOX59 in partnership with West Side Chamber of Commerce. FOX59’s Dan Spehler will moderate the debate.

Mayor Joe Hogsett (D-Indianapolis), State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), and Libertarian candidate Douglas McNaughton will take the stage Monday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Wayne Township.

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