CLEVELAND — Cleveland's seven candidates for mayor reacted to the gun violence that police say left 17 people shot in 14 separate shootings over the July 4 weekend.
Cleveland City Council president and mayoral candidate Kevin Kelley acknowledged the growing problem of gun violence and said a three pillar approach is needed to combat the problem.
Kelley said his three pillar safety plan includes more tools for police, what he called real community policing and better trauma intervention for inner city youth.
“Better community intervention, better community policing and getting to the root cause of the issue, which is retaliatory violence," Kelley said. "It’s the environment that kids are growing up in, witnessing the violence.”
Cleveland non-profit executive and mayoral candidate Justin Bibb said his approach to slowing gun violence would include improving the economic environment in the neighborhoods most impacted.
“I think it starts with more investments in mental health and more investments in good quality jobs in our neighborhoods to give people hope." Bibb said.
Cleveland attorney and mayoral candidate Ross DiBello agreed the gun violence problem is connected to a lack of investment in Cleveland neighborhoods.
"Crime is a socioeconomic problem," DiBello said. "Many neighborhoods throughout the city have been subject to divestment, leading to a broken economy with vacant storefronts and not enough opportunities."
Former Congressman, former Cleveland mayor and 2021 mayoral candidate Dennis Kucinich said a much greater number of police are needed on the streets to truly combat the gun violence issue.
“We need at least 400 new police officers, and we need another 100 safety assistants who can go in and handle responses that don’t require a gun," Kucinich said. “I think that there is real concern among the police that they’re not going to be backed up if they do the right thing. They’re not being backed up when they’re trying to enforce the law.”
Cleveland councilman and mayoral candidate Basheer Jones said reducing firearm access to youth and individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others is paramount.
"We must hold the gun industry accountable and ensure there is adequate oversight over the marketing and sales of guns and ammunition," Jones said.
State senator and Cleveland mayoral candidate Sandra Williams said she would continue to advocate for more restrictive gun laws as well as closing gun show loopholes and red flag legislation on the state and federal level from the Ohio Legislature to the United States Congress.
"We will be proactive and identify the areas where most violent crimes are occurring and target those violent crime micro-locations," Willams said. "Of course, we will use deescalation tactics to defuse potentially violent situations."
Former Cleveland councilman and mayoral candidate Zack Reed said better community contact between neighborhoods and police is crucial in reducing gun violence.
“We’ve got this big wall between them and us and we got to bring that all down," Reed said. "If we’re going to create safe wards, safe communities and neighborhoods, we’ve got to set up a real partnership in the city of Cleveland. We’ve got to bring back the mini police stations, we’ve got to have community policing, we can have police officers walking the beat.”
The non-partisan primary for Cleveland mayor takes place on Sept. 14, with the top two candidates moving on to the general election for Cleveland mayor in November.