Fresno Mayoral Forum

September 12, 2008 12:19:45 AM PDT
The two candidates for Mayor of Fresno took part in a forum on poverty, but it turned into a debate over other issues as well.City Council Member Henry T. Perea accused his opponent, Ashley Swearengin of negative campaigning when she criticized his lack of support for a police auditor.

Perea said it was a sensitive issue that required a "long conversation" with city residents. Swearengin said, "My frustration is that kind of leadership hasn't come from the council. For six years my opponent has been on the council he has said no to this item every time and he hasn't convened those meetings that he says he will convene as mayor so I guess I have to raise an eyebrow as to why the change in position or approach at this point as a candidate."

Perea responded, "We can talk about the past here all night. We really can. Or, we can talk about how we move forward understanding this is a very polarizing issue within our community."

Both candidates pledged to improve the lives of Fresno residents, and work to erase poverty and end homelessness. The message was well received by Cynthia Greene, a homeless woman who was among a group of homeless people who recently won a lawsuit against the city of Fresno over the treatment of the homeless. She said, well, let me put it this way. It's a helluva lot better listening to them than what the establishment is. See, what we need is change baby."

Swearingen also suggested Perea would use the Mayors post to advance his political ambitions. While she was dedicated to the city. Perea says Swearingen is on the attack. He said,"I think it's a sign of things to come. I believe they (Swearengin's campaign) are going to be very negative. "

Despite the occasional sniping, most of the 3 hundred or so people attending the forum seemed generally satisfied with the exchange.

Kim Thompson of Fresno said,:"Both candidates are great candidates and it's nice to be in a position in which Fresno has two great choices in going forward to our future.

Community Activist, Mary Curry thought the candidates were a little vague. She wanted their assurances they would be different from the Present Mayor, Alan Autry, who's well known for avoiding being at City Hall. Curry said,"I really wanted to ask them, will you spend your time at the gym or at Starbucks, will you come in and really be a Mayor for us."

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