Mayoral candidates debate key issues - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayoral candidates debate key issues

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Memphis voters will head to the polls October 8 and elect the next leader of the city.
To help you make an informed decision, WMC Action News 5 partnered with the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Association of Black Journalists, and League of Women Voters to bring the first televised 2015 Memphis mayoral debate into your living room.

The debate took place at the National Civil Rights Museum and was open to the public.
The top five candidates vetted by a third-party pollster, answered questions from panelists and community members.

The five candidates that appeared in the debate were:

Yacoubian Research vetted all 10 mayoral candidates to choose the top five. The vetting does not reflect who will win or lose, only the work they have done to run a serious campaign.

To listen to the full interview with Berje Yacoubian about his group's selection process, click here. To learn more about his organization, click here.

"As you know, it's the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act of 1965," said Faith Morris, the NCRM communications director. "It is a really critical year for municipal elections here in Memphis and heading to the presidential election next year."

Joe Birch and Ursula Madden moderated the debate with panelists Tri-State Defender newspaper publisher Bernal Smith, II, Wendi Thomas of the Memphis Flyer newspaper, Vivian Fernandez of La Prensa Latina, Dani Inez and Tony Nichelson of the Memphis Association of Black Journalists, and WMC Action News 5’s Kontji Anthony.

"I think it's critically important to give the public insight into the differences and nuances between the various candidates and what they actually stand for," Smith said.

Mike Williams focused on benefits for first responders.

"Yes, I would restore the benefits of the first responders, not a problem," Williams explained.

Harold Collins discussed crumbling infrastructure.

"If it rains for 10 minutes, it's going to flood everyone out," said Collins. "We have drastically neglected our infrastructure under this administration."

Current Mayor A C Wharton and Jim Strickland provided the most spirited interaction.

"Our city is more violent than it was a few years ago, it's more blighted than it was a few years ago, and it's more littered than it was a few years ago," Strickland challenged.

"Whenever we were up here coming up with programs, [Strickland] was Dr. No," Wharton said.

Fernandez said this is the first mayoral debate to give the area's 200 thousand Hispanics a voice. She also raised some questions about crime against immigrants.

"I know there is a language barrier, but they need help and sometimes they go to police to file a report and it's not followed up or the police don't have anybody that speaks Spanish," she said.

Before the debate, Smith said the candidates will need to address the issue of unemployed youth.

"How do you create an environment of positivity that will allow them to be employed, that will allow them to learn and to be entertained?" he asked.

Other questions ranged from poverty to millenials, all to empower you to vote.

"We encourage you to understand how important it is," Morris said. "To just know what right you have. That's the only way you have a voice."

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