Policing issue front and center at SB mayoral debate

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A mayoral debate for South Bend's two candidates was held Tuesday night, and policing was among the many topics discussed.

Ever since an officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of Eric Logan, the topic of policing is still on people's minds. As expected, Republican candidate Sean Haas and Democratic candidate James Mueller had different perspectives.

"There is a significant amount of our population that doesn't trust the police, and it's not necessarily what from our police are doing day to day; some are larger systemic issues that have been around for some time," Mueller said.

"I don't agree with that," Haas responded. "I trust the police and I think one thing we can do is up the board of public safety. [That] would bring trust back to that process. I believe body cameras are the most important issue to building that trust as well.

"There are bad actors in every single profession, whether it's police officers, teachers, lawyers – there are bad examples. But to blanketly call an entire force racist based on the actions of a few is irresponsible."

"I don't know that Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] or myself claim that they police were racist in that regard," Mueller said. "It is within this context. You have to understand why a significant portion of our community does not trust the police, so we have to address those systemic challenges while also, as a community, having dialogue and truthful conversation."

Both candidates said public safety is a top priority, while another big topic was infrastructure.

"I think we have to look at our budget and make sure we are allocating enough money to take care of infrastructure," Haas said.

"When it comes to roads specifically, the gas tax doesn't get raised very often," Mueller said.

One person in the crowd shared what he thought of the debate.

"I feel like they just skirted some of the topics that I wanted to hear more about, or they didn't go as in-depth into how they would solve the problem," Jurek Shultz said.

To wrap it all up, candidates shared their philosophies, if elected.

"I really believe in having multiple perspectives, and I think that's something that's been ingrained in me since I was young," Haas said.

"I am a very people-centric, people-first person who wants to make sure that we are moving forward together," Mueller said.

Neighborhoods, the unlicensed abortion clinic in South Bend and transportation were other topics discussed at Tuesday night's debate.