Angry Cleveland residents demanded to know "where the hell is he?" after Justin Bibb was a no-show at a discussion regarding safety this past Friday. Both candidates for mayor were invited, but only Kevin Kelley attended and addressed the crowd.
The discussion was hosted by the Cleveland Fire Fighters, Local 93. A crowd of about 70 residents gathered to hear the candidates positions on safety, especially the possible impact of Issue 24, which will also be on the ballot on November 2nd.
The difference in their safety plans has emerged as the major difference between the candidacies of Kevin Kelley and Justin Bibb. Kelley's plan calls for greater neighborhood police protection and ministations in each ward, while Bibb's plan has been criticized as resulting in a defunding of the police department.
When one of the moderators informed the crowd that Bibb was invited but chose not to attend, the crowd booed loudly in response. There have been dozens of candidate forums and debates this year, and this crucial discussion on safety is believed to be the only one that Bibb refused to attend.
Some of the Cleveland residents who did attend believe that the snub was intentional. "He's hiding on this issue. He's for defunding the police and he won't come here and defend it,"one irate resident stated. "He's trying to run out the clock until the election is over, and it stinks."
In his remarks, Kelley directly addressed the issue of defunding the police. "What is at the core of this? Defund the police...We are down 150, almost 200 officers right now. Crime is epidemic in Cleveland right now...we absolutely cannot afford this right now."
Check out the video taken at this safety discussion event: