Mayoral candidates hope to win over Clevelanders in Monday evening debate

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The two remaining candidates in the Cleveland mayoral race hoped to win over city residents during a debate Monday evening.

Nonprofit executive Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council president Kevin Kelley led the crowded field of seven candidates in September’s primary. Bibb finished with 27% of the vote, while Kelley had 19.4%. Roughly 3,000 votes separated the two.

Kelley and Bibb squared off for a 90 minute discussion that included videotaped questions from Cleveland residents. It was hosted by the City Club of Cleveland and Ideastream.

Some of the topics up for discussion included crime, jobs, health disparities and police accountability.

One of the first issues that the candidates disagree on is Issue 24, which would change the city’s charter to give an independent citizen commission more power to deal with police misconduct.

“In this city, right now, we’ve spent over $30 million over the last ten years trying to settle police misconduct claims, and I believe Issue 24 is a positive step in the right direction to make sure we have more community voices around the table,” said Bibb.

Kelley opposes the issue.

“Issue 24 would make our neighborhoods less safe. Issue 24 would result in hundreds of officers leaving the job…. when you get on board with amending the charter, this is serious business. This should not be taken lightly. This is a critical issue. We need to do better. We need to defeat Issue 24,” said Kelley.

Kelley and Bibb are vying to become the first new mayor of Cleveland since 2006. Current Mayor Frank Jackson announced this spring he would not run for the fifth term.

The race will be decided in the Nov. 2 general election.

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