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Mayor Joe Hogsett and opponent Jefferson Shreve address issues in the black community during debate

Three watch parties were held for the virtual debate.
Posted at 11:35 PM, Oct 08, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS— On Sunday night people gathered inside the Indianapolis Urban League to watch the second debate between Mayor Joe Hogsett and Republican candidate Jefferson Shreve.

This debate focused on issues in the black community. Three viewing parties were held across the city. This debate was virtual.

"A lot of it is uncertainty. A lot of people are still uncertain about voting, so we’re hoping this gives some light into what they have on their platform," said Kelly Doucet, the president of the The Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League.

Public safety issues kicked off the debate. Both candidates addressed IMPD's staffing shortage, how they plan to fix it including recruiting more black officers, and how they plan to continue to build the relationship between officers and the black community.

"And when we do because we will I think you will see an increase in the diversity across the board of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department," said Mayor Joe Hogsett.

"The department of IMPD needs to be reflective of this community that includes African Americans of which our department is not even half reflective of," said Republican candidate Jefferson Shreve.

Cecelia Wisdom watched the debate and said she still has questions on how they plan to address the police department.

"They keep saying police are retiring. The question they should have gotten in was why are they leaving, you know what is the problem that is making them leave. That’s what should have been addressed if the issue is retention. We didn’t get a clarification on that," said Wisdom.

Wisdom says her biggest concern is education.

"I was shocked to find it’s such a low population of people left in the public schools that the charter schools are so prolific that they’re stealing away the students," said Wisdom.

Education and charter schools were brought up during the debate. Moderators noted that more than half the students who live in the boundaries of IPS go to a charter school. Voters are asking for a moratorium on opening any new ones, but both Hogsett and Shreve say they don't plan on putting a halt to charter schools.

"I’m not proposing a moratorium. I am proposing oversight and quality control which is the responsibility of the mayors office and council committee," said Shreve.

"We focus on quality not quantity and it’s important that we continue to provide these types of learning opportunities for students especially in areas of historically undeserved populations," said Hogsett.

Questions during the hour debate also centered around food deserts and housing including rising rents and property taxes.

"We can have development without displacement," said Shreve.

"In the 2024 budgeting process we’re piloting a program to keep long time residents in their homes," said Hogsett referencing the Riverside neighborhood as the the first location.

Anthony Murdock was also in attendance and says these are all necessary conversations. He's interested in how both candidates plan to help minority business owners and entrepreneurs.

"When you invest in black entrepreneurship you’re closing the racial wealth gap and both of the candidates in some capacity talked about a design to that work but it’s going to be difficult to say you’re about that work if you’re not investing in black entrepreneurship," said Murdock.