CLEVELAND — Cleveland voters are three weeks away from electing a new mayor for the first time in 16 years.
On Monday night, the two mayoral candidates, both Democrats, took part in a debate presented by the City Club of Cleveland and Ideastream Public Media.
Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb answered questions about how they would bring change to Cleveland if elected mayor, a job Kelley called “the hardest job in government.”
Among the topics the candidates addressed were crime and safety. In particular, the candidates talked about their support for or opposition of Issue 24, a proposed charter amendment on the ballot that would give a community policing commission power to decide discipline in police misconduct cases.
Bibb, the son of a police officer, supports Issue 24 and said that “justice delayed is justice denied” when it comes to deaths due to police misconduct.
“When you have more community voices around the table, you get better accountability and you build the right kind of culture to make sure that our officers come up to work every day with a good culture of policing. We have to try something new. The current system is broken," Bibb said.
Kelley opposes Issue 24 and said that the police department already has a consent decree in place.
“Issue 24 would make our neighborhoods less safe,” Kelly said. “Issue 24 would result in hundreds of officers leaving the job. Issue 24 would result in slower response times.”
Both men acknowledged that the city’s rate of unsolved homicides was unacceptable, but they differed in their ideas of how to change that.
Kelley said the solve rate was because “we are not able to recruit and retain the talent that we need” and cautioned that he believes Issue 24 would drive officers away from the job.
Bibb said the department needs to beef up its homicide unit and work with federal law enforcement to ensure families receive justice. He also called for paying Cleveland police officers more money.
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