By: Emily Guiles
On Tuesday October 20th a Mayoral debate was held at Muskegon Heights Charter Academy Waters Performance Center. The debate was sponsored by Mlive, Muskegon Heights Academy, and 103.7 the Beat radio station.
During the debate Mlive announced that they would be endorsing a candidate for Mayor based on the October 20th debate and prior Mayoral debates.
As the debate underway the proctor, Dave Alexander of Mlive, asked the audience not to react to the questions and answers or applaud until the debate was over.
The candidates were given 1 minute to respond to questions asked by the board of questioners, and offer all the candidates a rebuttal time of 30 seconds after each candidate has answered the question.
In their opening statements candidate Dorothy Scott, who is a former Muskegon Heights City Councilwoman, said that she believes she is the right choice for Mayor because of her appreciation for Muskegon Heights and her citizens. Scott is a lifelong resident of the Muskegon Heights area. Because of these reasons Scott stated that she is, “qualified to lead this (Muskegon Heights) city.”
Candidate Bonnie McGlothin, who is a current Muskegon Heights city councilwoman, is also a lifelong resident, and because of this says she has a vested interest in Muskegon Heights’ success.
Also a current councilwoman, Kim Sims is also running in the race for Mayor. Sims admitted, during her opening speech, that she does not have all the answers. However Sims also stated that, “my heart and my soul is in the city.” Sims believes that she can bring more of the citizens ideals into the government of Muskegon Heights, and that the city would benefit from it.
Another candidate and current Muskegon Heights council member is Eddie Jenkins, who is also the Mayor Pro Tempore. In his opening statement Jenkins expressed concern about the lack of a youth presence at the debate, and asked that everyone please vote in the upcoming elections.
The candidates were questioned by a panel made up of three constituents: the Beat radio station personality Jon Covington, Mlive columnist Clayton Hardiman, and Stephen Kloosterman of Mlive.
A large topic of the debate was the violence that has recently affected Muskegon Heights. When asked how they would address this violence two of the four candidates, Scott and Sims, agreed that a task force should be put into place.
Jenkins disagreed under his understanding that Muskegon Heights doesn’t need to wait for a task force or a title to take action against violence. Jenkins’ approach to violence was for citizens and those in a position of power should stop turning a blind eye to that happen in the city itself, and take action.
Sims agreed on a taskforce, but insisted that if one were implemented citizens should play a large part in the taskforce and its operations.
Scott was confident in her ability to deal with the violence given her 28 years teaching criminal justice at Muskegon Community College, and encouraged the citizens not to be afraid of their own city.
McGlothin talked about the use of guns and gun laws. She stated that guns are a larger problem than just Muskegon Heights, and it is a tough issue for any government to address. The issue of gun laws would have to go to the State or Federal government.
Another hot topic at the debate was regarding the Muskegon Heights water system. All of the candidates agreed that the Muskegon Heights water system can self sustainfor some time. But will at some point need to make some revenue off of it. A million dollar revenue was lost and it was agreed upon by all candidates that revenue needs to be made elsewhere.
All candidates also agreed that the citizens need to be more informed with what their government is doing. Candidate Scott proposed that the government issue a weekly newsletter. Sims stated that an informed community is a healthy community. Sims also wants everyone in the community to better understand how the government works and functions. All candidates agreed that Muskegon Heights is in need of unity in the community.
All four candidates for Mayor are great competition for one another, and it is sure to be a close race.