Oct. 11—The five candidates running for Lafayette City Council talked economy, equity, policing and more during a Wednesday evening candidate forum hosted by the Lafayette Youth Advisory Commission.
The virtual forum featured a variety of questions derived from the commission and community members followed by a rapid-fire thumbs-up or thumbs-down segment to yes or no questions. Candidates Enihs Medrano, Nicole Samson and Brandon States participated along with current councilmembers running for reelection Tonya Briggs and Brian Wong. There are four seats open this election, according to the city's webpage.
When asked what motivated them to run for council even with unknown ramifications from the pandemic, Briggs said the pandemic was part of why she chose to run because so much of the Council's priorities shifted and adapted due to the coronavirus. Medrano said serving the community has always been part of who she is, and Samson said her motivation comes from her mission to leave the world a better place. Stites said he became interested in local government through becoming an Eagle Scout and wants to make sure the community's voice is heard, and Wong reiterated what he campaigned on two years ago: to best prepare and elevate Lafayette for its future.
The Youth Advisory Commission solicited questions from residents, and one commissioner said the topic of policing and criminal justice received the most questions from residents. She then asked the candidates what policies they would implement to foster trust between the police department and the community, and what they will do to ensure minorities aren't disproportionately impacted.
The five candidates each stressed the importance of fostering trust between residents and police and ways they envision that happening, including additional trainings and meetings and allocating time, money and resources into the initiative.
They were also asked about Lafayette's two ballot measures on the November ballot: what can be done to protect Lafayette's mobile home owners and what the city can do to combat climate change.
One commissioner also asked what the Council could do to counteract some of the disparities youth of color may face in the city. Wong proposed new programs or a teen center, and Samson said her rule would be to listen, hear and understand. Medrano, a Latina who grew up in Lafayette, said the key is to create a space where kids feel like they belong and aren't just included.
Following the question and answer portion the Youth Advisory Commission asked dozens of yes or no questions and each candidate held up a paddle with either a green thumbs up meaning yes or a red thumbs down meaning no. Questions ranged from asking who was in support of school resource officers, marijuana delivery, more recycling and compost, and if fracking is still a threat.
In closing statements, Samson said, "What I bring to the table is somebody who's willing to listen, ... someone who really wants to do what's right for this community."
Stites, acknowledging he didn't have as much experience as the other candidates, said he likes listening to people to hear what they have to say. Medrano said she's looking forward to engaging with the community from a different perspective and hopes to serve Lafayette's Latino population.
"I am not done. There's so much more to do. I am excited to potentially serve again and prepare and elevate Lafayette for the future and all the that challenges we have," Wong said.
Briggs concluded there should be a height restriction in Old Town and she hopes to see a collaborative, local electric transportation system.
To rewatch the Youth Advisory Committe's forum, visit lafayetteco.gov/StreamingVideo.
The League of Women Voters is hosting another forum for the City Council candidates on Tuesday at 6 p.m.. The forum will be live-streamed and later available on the LWVBC YouTube channel.