RECAP: Topics discussed in WTVM’s Mayoral Debate

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Thousand of people tuned in last night for the WTVM News Leader 9 Mayoral Debate.

In this exclusive debate, Mayor Skip Henderson and challenger, John Anker, discussed their views and platforms.

The major concern that many of you at home told us about was crime and it was discussed at length last night.

“Our crime issue, and it’s going to take the same type of leadership to navigate our way through that.” said Henderson.

“We can’t focus tonight on the beautiful architecture and the beauty of our house because the kitchen is on fire.” said Anker.

It’s a top priority for massive numbers of Columbus residents and it’s the top priority for the two men looking to lead the city for the next four year term.

The Columbus Mayoral Debate focused hard on crime in the city.

“We should have never said we didn’t have a gang problem, ever, and that happened before the mayor’s term, but he’s been on the city council a long time. He should’ve addressed it sooner. We should have called out for the gang task force before it ever left.” said Anker.

“We have a gang task force. There’s a gang task force that exists in our sheriff’s office. There’s also a gang intelligence unit that resides in our Columbus Police Department, and their job is to gather intelligence on just about every individual who participates in a gang. We know who most of them are.” replied Henderson.

Henderson stood behind current initiatives like ‘Cure Violence Columbus’ as the answer, plus adding the new technology in the city in the form of cameras has helped.

“We’ve got about 3,000 more cameras that are going to be put in place and what that allows us to do is use a higher degree of technology,” explained Henderson. “We’ve made arrests using cameras. We also have a technology called FLOCK technology which is another type of camera, but it will triangulate a gunshot.”

Anker offered a different approach, suggesting a tougher law enforcement presence with help from outside agencies.

“Since 2009, just remember, we were told we’d be the safest city in the state of Georgia. We were told if you’ll pass this permanent OLAS tax 70% will be used to make our city the safest place. We’ve collected 70% of that, it’s around, round number of $400-Million-Dollars. We could have bought a lot of cameras to do that, but the answer to the question is not the cameras. The answer to the question is what we’ve been promised. 488 officers. That’s what the goal was when Ricky Boren was chief. That’s what the goal is today.” added Anker.

The non-partisan debate was hosted by the Muscogee County Republican Party.

The mayoral election will be May 24.

To watch the full debate, click here.

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