(10/11/11) - We are four weeks away from the election and the race for Flint mayor is heating up. Tuesday night, current mayor Dayne Walling and former city administrator Darryl Buchanan faced off during a debate at the University of Michigan-Flint.
The theme of this debate was "College Town," and the focus was higher education in Flint. Crime and jobs seemed to take center stage, however.
The panel of four judges represented all of the Flint area colleges and universities. Both candidates promoted their plan to help advance higher education in the Vehicle City.
"I've never seen Flint becoming a place like Ann Arbor. We want to become a College Town in our own way," Walling said.
"We have to look at the plans that you guys have and how the expansion plans and how the city can help you guys," Buchanan told the panel.
The debate started with a strong focus on higher education, but it quickly took a turn toward jobs and crime, leading to a heated exchange.
"They're saying we're the fourth most dangerous city in America. We did not have the image, that negative image in 2008, but we sure got it in 2009. That's because the police department was decimated by layoffs," Buchanan said.
"You're going to hear from my opponent all night that every problem Flint faces started in August of 2009. I was born here in 1974 and I can tell you that's not true," Walling said.
Flint's economic crisis also came into play. Each candidate highlighted their plan for revitalization. "We cannot be dependent on any one industry. We can't be dependent on just higher education, as much as it's growing right now, we can't be dependent on just the automotive industry. We have to embrace a diverse and comprehensive approach."
Buchanan hopes to create thriving neighborhoods and businesses through the city, similar to the downtown area. "I want to take economic development to every ward in the city of Flint. Yes I love downtown, but I also love Davison, Saginaw MLK and other streets."
The next debate is scheduled for this Thursday and will be hosted by the NAACP.
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