Crime, public safety takes center stage as top mayoral candidates debate on Channel 2

ATLANTA — The top five candidates hoping to be Atlanta’s next mayor made their case Sunday night during a live debate on WSB-TV.

The invited candidates included Antonio Brown, Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay, Felicia Moore and former mayor Kasim Reed.

All of the questions focused on the biggest issues facing the candidates in this race—crime and public safety.

The debate was not without some fireworks.

“I guarantee you that, unlike Ms. Moore, I won’t vote for a 51% tax increase,” Reed said.

“I’m going to have to rebut to that because that was done in 2009 at the end of the Great Recession.”

[WATCH: The Atlanta Mayoral Debate: A WSB-TV Special Presentation]

Just minutes into the debate, Reed clashed with City Council President Moore about paying for more Atlanta police officers.

“We will quickly hire 750 police officers,” Reed said.

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“We’re going to get the equivalent of 200 cops on the streets in the first 100 days,” Moore said.

All the candidates weighed in on Atlanta voters’ No. 1 concern – fighting the city’s crime problem.

“People are fed up, and I’m fed up too. No woman should be brutally murdered while walking their dog at night. No child should be shot Christmas shopping with their family,” Gay said.

“We talk about putting more police officers on the streets of Atlanta, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem. We cannot continue to be reactive,” Brown said.

“We are, in fact, in a crime wave, and it’s the job of the mayor to make sure that this is just a spike right now and not the new normal, which is why I have a comprehensive plan,” Dickens said.

Toward the end of the debate, the candidates clashed again, this time over the corruption scandal in Reed’s former administration.

[PHOTOS: The Atlanta Mayoral Debate on WSB-TV]

“I would just say to the citizens of this city that we do not need the distraction, the cloud of corruption that hovers over City Hall,” Moore said.

“She likes to talk about me and corruption, although I’m not under investigation and was never accused of wrongdoing,” Reed shot back.

“So when you have seven individuals, who are your top officials, down the hall from you, that’s happening right under your nose, either you were in on it or you were grossly negligent in watching the shop,” Dickens said.

“I accept responsibility for the people who did wrong in my administration, and I have a concrete plan to move forward and make sure that it never happens again,” Reed said.

The latest poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows the race for Atlanta mayor is a tossup, with Reed and Moore in a statistical dead heat and nearly 41% of likely voters still undecided.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 11 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and found Reed (23.5%) with a sliver of a lead over Moore (20.4%); that falls within the poll’s 3.4 percentage point margin of error.

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