The high rate of HIV/AIDS, violent crime and controversial facilities such as halfway houses dominated the Community Newspaper Group debate among the candidates for the 41st City Council District.
Vying for the seat, which encompasses parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush and Crown Heights are incumbent Darlene Mealy and challengers Tracy Boyland, Anthony Herbert and Tulani Kinard.
Mealy, who won the Council position four years ago in an upset, stressed her work as a grassroots activist who has continued to learn on the job.
Addressing the high rate of HIV/AIDS in the district, she said her focus is on visiting the many churches in the district to do outreach on teaching safe sex and other preventative measures as well as informing constituents on where they can go for testing and treatment.
Boyland, a former City Councilmember, added that her focus would also be on getting more funding and access to health facilities.
Herbert said education is imperative to combat the virus, and Kinard noted that much of the high rate of asthma is connected to the environment and vowed to institute a green campaign in the district.
Regarding the high rate of violent crime in the district, Anthony championed himself as a leading advocate of stopping the violence, and noted that he often responds personally to family members when their loved one is shot and killed.
Mealy said she was outraged when cops were pulled out of the district and transferred to Williamsburg and she was successful in bringing them back in.
Boyland said would work closely with both the community and police and other city agencies to curb the violence.
Kinard said more programs need to be instituted aimed at youth, who are often both the victims and perpetrators of violent crime.
All four candidates acknowledged the large number of halfway houses and homeless shelters in the district, but showed empathy for the people living in these residences.
The candidates noted the high rate of unemployment and incarceration in the African-American communities and vowed to help the less fortunate get back on their feet.
In regard to renewing mayoral control over schools, Mealy generally favored it while her opponents generally did not.
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