DOWNTOWN SAVANNAH – The issues of crime, city spending, and poverty headline the discussion had by candidates seeking Savannah’s top office.
Challengers gave loud responses to solving these issues and as well as criticizing the current persons in office allowing them happen.
“Until we can get our house in order as far as the crime situation goes we’re not going to get anything else in order,” says former county commissioner Eddie DeLoach
Crime gathered the majority of discussion but following close behind the panelists tasked questions of education, poverty, and frivolous spending by city leaders. The questions on crime did not only surround it’s growth in the past year, but also the forces creating it; gangs, police vacancies, and public policy.
“When you talk about citizen participation, citizen involvement, collaborating with the police department, collaborating with the city government,” says incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson, pushing for a broader community effort as the answer to stopping crime from taking place or growing in the household.
Nearly 30 homicides have taken place to date. When talking crime, candidates also took shots at current issues with aiding metro police.
“We have police officers been on the force seven years haven’t seen a pay raise, no no we have got to get the pay scale right,” says challenger and local author Murray Silver Jr.
“Make the ones that are there do the job that they are supposed to do as opposed to being condescending to people and disrespectful to people which has been my experience a lot,” says West Savannah resident and real estate businessman Louis Wilson Jr.
“You have to give him the opportunity to do the job that would be my recommendation is to fill the spots get those people on the street,” says DeLoach referring to Metro police Chief Jack Lumpkin.
When faced with questions of budgeting for business and promoting tourism several candidates still turned back to budgeting for crime first before all else.
Now on issues such as poverty in Savannah, Silver Jr. and Jackson turned to the hotel and tourism industry. Jackson discussing more opportunity and development, Silver Jr. with the platform of raising minimum for hotel workers by $2. Wilson Jr. also kept to a platform of wage inequality in the workplace.
DeLoach spoke more of internship programs for high school students to small businesses or companies. He stuck heavy to a platform of small business, denouncing minimum wage raises and pointing to investing in employees.
For residents, business leaders, and interest groups present at the forum they say it was a step forward getting the candidates talking about theses issues. For some they hope the talking will lead to more action.
“Any one running for office or in office can address an issues, the thing is putting the letter in the envelope sealing the envelope putting a stamp on it and sending it somewhere anybody can address an issue,” says east Savannah resident Ivan Cohen.