The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Mayor candidates discuss platforms at forum

Future voters gathered at the New Vision Learning Academy for the inaugural mayoral candidates’ forum on Feb. 8. The forum, sponsored by First Missionary Baptist Church, welcomed the three candidates for mayor: Betty Ward-Cooper, Friday Ellis and Jamie Mayo.

First, the contenders in the 2024 mayor election spoke about their background. Each candidate mentioned what they would bring to the table as mayor.

Ward-Cooper highlighted her decades-long teaching career and involvement in organizations such as the NAACP and Louisiana Women’s Coalition. Ellis discussed how his single father and family influence his values as the current mayor. Mayo spoke about his accomplishments as a former city councilman and mayor.

“When I left office after 19 years, I was proud of the fact that we made so many strides for the city of Monroe,” Mayo said. “We were able to bring two thousand new businesses to Monroe from 2001-2020, which equates to about 10 thousand jobs here.”

After the audience learned more about mayoral candidates, the forum transitioned into a Q&A. Pastor Tegrita Thomas moderated the Q&A segment, asking each candidate the same four questions. The questions focused on how candidates will address significant issues, such as Monroe’s economy, crime rates and underserved communities.

Unlike a presidential debate, the mayors’ forum did not allow interruptions from the audience or other candidates.

Economic development on Monroe’s South Side was one of the hot topics of the night. Both Ward-Cooper and Mayo lived on the South Side and expressed their disappointment in the Ellis administration’s work so far in that area.

“Every citizen, you need to be at the table because decisions are being made by you,” Ward-Cooper said. “Decisions are being made about your future, your children’s future and the future of your children’s children.”

Crime rates remain a subject of controversy. Ward-Cooper and Mayo believe that violent crime is increasing in Monroe and West Monroe. Both candidates favor a community policing approach that involves local churches and youth organizations.

Meanwhile, Ellis states that the crime rate is declining due to his investments in the police department and public safety center.

Thomas ended the forum, urging attendees to go to the polls. Early voting begins Mar. 9 and election day is Mar. 23.

“I believe you have heard from each candidate,” Thomas said. “You have a choice to make when you go to the polls.”

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