Benton Harbor mayor and commissioner-at-large candidates' debate

NOW: Benton Harbor mayor and commissioner-at-large candidates’ debate

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- As we near closer to election season, now is the time for voters to become familiar with candidates running for local office.

Especially for the residents of Benton Harbor, who have dealt with water, educational, and financial crises for the past few years.

A civic engagement nonprofit in Benton Harbor called Berrien Forward hosted ‘The future of Benton Harbor’ debate Friday night for the two big seats up for grabs in November, the mayoral and commissioner at large seats.

“You need to know what their plans are going to be for taxes, for infrastructure, for education, so you can actually see progress in your community,” says Chokwe Pitchford, Founder and Executive Director of Berrien Forward.

Those were just a few of the topics tackled by candidates, starting with the four running for two city commissioner at large seats.

Two of which are incumbents, Commissioner Mary Adams and Commissioner Edward Isom. Emma Kinnard and Shaquille Turner are vying for the two positions as well.

They all gave their stances on important topics that matter the most to Benton Harbor residents, including community violence, the water crisis, federal and state money allocations, and housing affordability.

The two mayoral candidates took the stage next—which includes incumbent Marcus Muhammad and Gwen Johnson, a community organizer and social justice leader.

They tackled similar topics as the commissioners, but got more in depth about public safety plans, education funds, and infrastructure.

“I am here for the city, I am here for our residents, I am boots on the ground and talking to people to see what they need and what they want,” says Johnson.

“There’s many projects, many things in place, and I need your support to continue to move us forward and make Benton Harbor great again,” Mayor Muhammad says.

The organizers of Friday night’s debate say engaging in local politics like this is the best way to ensure you’re making an informed vote that you feel is best for the growth of your community.

“I think we’re so focused on who the president is, who your senator is, who your representative is,” Pitchford believes. “For every one thing that group can do, your mayor and city commissioners can do five more. So, I think hearing form this group is important because you need something to base your assumption about them on.”

On October 21 the ‘Voters not Politicians Education Fund’ will be holding a Voter Access Townhall, where Michigan voters can come learn how to make their voices heard by planning their vote for election day on November 17.

You can learn more about Berrien Forward here.

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