Mayoral Candidates Agree To Public Forums; Merritt Wants Nine Debates
INDIANAPOLIS -- The race for Indianapolis mayor is headed to neighborhoods.
Incumbent Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, and challenger Jim Merritt, a Republican state senator, have agreed to two public forums. One of which will be hosted by the Historic Urban Neighborhoods of Indianapolis on September 19th.
"Yes it is civil," said HUNI president Garry Chilluffo, laughing. "We invite the public, and we open it up and let the public ask questions, so the question gets asked, and each candidate gets a chance to answer it, but it is not debate per se."
The second is on September 25th and is not a debate but an opportunity for each candidate to talk for 30 minutes about the homelessness issue in the city.
Merritt is asking for nine debates: one in every township. For now his campaign has scheduled four public forum style events. The Hogsett campaign has only agreed to attend two of those forums.
"We really believe the city of Indianapolis deserves debates," said Merritt. "They deserve transparency. They deserve to know what the future of Indianapolis looks like."
A statement from the Hogsett campaign says:
"We welcome Senator Merritt to this ongoing community conversation and look forward to the Historic Urban Neighborhoods of Indianapolis forum, as well as other neighborhood-focused events in the coming months."
Chris Straab has lived on the east side of Indianapolis most of his life. He has a front-row seat to redevelopment in the area. Straab said his neighborhood still needs help, and he would like to hear what the mayoral candidates have in mind.
"Well, it is very important because the community needs to be educated on what both candidates have to say. If we don't have a forum and the candidates aren't educated, aren't informed, then it kind of leaves an empty void of, 'Who do I choose?'" said Straab.
Straab said the east side needs mom-and-pop shops, and for someone to take a stand on crime, roads and abandoned houses.
(WISH-TV contributed to this article)