SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The YMCA of Northwest Louisiana hosted a panel discussion Thursday evening in Broadmoor with candidates who have qualified for Shreveport mayor.

When the event was announced on June 13, there were only five candidates who had declared that they would run. Five additional candidates ultimately qualified for the Shreveport mayor’s race since then, bringing the total to ten. The YMCA says it extended invitations to the additional candidates who qualified.

Event organizers at the YMCA said this was not a debate but rather an opportunity for candidates to share why they are running and ask them a few questions.

The YMCA also accepted questions from the public that could be asked of the candidates by email.

Mayor Perkins thanked the public for attending the event, saying, “An informed citizenry is what makes our city great.”

The panel discussion started at 6:30 p.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m. at Knight Street and YMCA. This event was free and open to the public.

Perkins addressed community concerns about policing and the steps they have taken to improve public trust.

“The is a large chunk of our community that does not have trust in our SPD officers. And in year one, we emphasized community-oriented policing. I got out there myself quarterly with our officers, knocking on doors, making sure our citizens understood what our officers were out there to do. And we built that relationship.”

Candidate Greg Tarver emphasized a stricter approach to crime in the city is needed, saying there should be fewer deals made and those prosecuted should serve jail time. While Tom Arceneaux believes that improving property standards and removing blight will lower criminal activity in the city.

Mario Chavez spoke about the importance of job growth in Shreveport and how he would approach it.

“The way to increase revenue. The way to make jobs is to build stuff here and send it out of the borders of the city of Shreveport. How do we do that? We are poised to be the next great tech hub of the south. We are already a medical corridor; we need to capitalize on that.”

Meanwhile, candidate Levette Fuller says the best way to improve local business is for the Metropolitan Planning Commission to be open to new ideas.

“We have to say yes first. When you say that the MPC is shutting things down, what they actually do is they go, “We’ve never done that before I don’t know if we can do that.” Instead of just saying yes. And working from there so that we can do the things that the entrepreneurs with the big ideas want to do.”

KTAL/KMSS streamed the event live; a recording of the panel can be seen here.

The YMCA will hold a series of these community-focused panel discussions throughout the year.