The three candidates vying to replace Ivy Taylor on the city council were on the attack during a recent candidate forum held in the city’s second district.
Norris Darden, Hector Medina, and Antonio Diaz each accused councilwoman Taylor of not advocating for district 2 residents.
“I’ve been in this community for 33 years and I really haven’t seen the people benefit,” said Darden. “I want to refocus our priorities back to the people, and return District 2 to what it once was."
The three candidates cited the district’s deteriorating infrastructure as evidence that Taylor was not fighting hard enough to get money allocated to district two repairs.
“We need to stop annexing and continuing to grow when we are not supplying the infrastructure for the older neighborhoods,” said Diaz.
But Taylor said pushing more dollars into infrastructure needs would mean cutting vital district services.
“We can talk about prioritizing and finding money,” Taylor said. “But do you want to reduce the police force? Do you want to reduce the fire department, fire service? Do you want to reduce trash pick-up? No, those are priorities."
Taylor defended her record pointing to some of her recent accomplishments.
“Under my leadership we have ensured good stewardship of those scarce public dollars. We focused on housing, corridor revitalization and supporting educational efforts.”
The most contentious part of the forum came during a discussion on the district’s controversial gang injunction, which prohibits suspected gang members from gathering in large groups.
Taylor said it has had an impact, but more police are needed in District 2.
"I would consider a discussion on lifting the gang injunction, though I think there has been some success as a result of the gang injunction,” she said. “That's not the only thing we are doing. Certainly we need to ensure that we increase the flow in the areas that are hotspots,"
Darden, Medina, and Diaz all said the injunction should be eliminated and lowering the crime rate would only come by improving residents’ relationships with police.
“There are certain things that I think, certain non-violent crimes, that I think, ‘Is there another solution?’” Medina said. “With a given situation there are certain things that I believe that people shouldn’t go to jail for.”
Darden said the focus needs to be on rehabilitation and not punishing residents in the area who may have a checkered past.
“We need sure fire things that's going to make sure that when these people come home, when these people are released, that there's something in place for them to succeed, not a gang injunction that's going to make them mess up or put them in a position to mess up."