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Tallahassee mayoral candidates talk about poverty, crime, development, and government transparency

Four people sit on a dais.
Lydell Rawls
WFSU Public Media
Candidates for Tallahassee Mayor participate in a forum hosted at WFSU.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey is fending off three challengers as he seeks a second term. They are three-term Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, Michael Ibrahim and Whitfield Leland III. 

A candidate forum Wednesday hosted by WFSU, the Tallahassee Democrat and The League of Women Voters of Tallahassee saw the candidates tackling poverty, crime, economic development, government transparency and more.

The city is well on its way to breaking an ominous record—more than seventy shootings so far this year—which is capping the highs in previous ones. For Michael Ibrahim, the answer lies in education.

“I think lack of education when it comes to firearms is a major problem of shooting. A lot of younger folks think a gun is a toy. It is not; it is a tool. And it’s mainly used, hopefully, against someone who is trying to harm you or harm your family.”

Whitfield Leland III says poverty is the root, while the crime itself, is the symptom.

“If you walk through these neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods ... there’s nothing creative to do in these neighborhoods," he said.

The forum boiled down to freighted exchanges between Dailey and Dozier, and ongoing debate over whether a decision by the joint, city-county Blueprint commission to allocate $27 million for Doak Campbell Stadium repairs, was the right one.

Dailey defended his backing of the money by pointing to a recent article in the Tallahassee Democrat.

“It noted that we are about to break records of tourism here in Tallahassee and that one out of every five people that come to Tallahassee is collegiate sports-related. And in fact, collegiate football is the number-one driver of a billion-dollar tourism industry here. The return on investment is about $80 million annually.”

Meanwhile, Dozier said she was proud to have led the opposition to the funding.

“The numbers that were quoted, $80 million impact of a football season, that’s what we had in 2019. The investment of our money, $27 million, is not going to increase the return that we get from a football season for the tourism dollars," she said.

To watch the forum, go to wfsu.org.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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