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Ray Collins, left, and Cathy Cox-Stover, discuss issues during the Kokomo Common Council’s Third District forum on Thursday.

Thursday night’s most laid-back political forum inside Havens Auditorium involved the two candidates seeking the Kokomo Common Council’s Third District seat: Democrat Cathy Cox-Stover and Republican Ray Collins.

Sandwiched in between the Second District and at-large candidates, Cox-Stover and Collins are seeking to replace retiring longtime councilwoman Janie Young.

The race, according to their comments Thursday, will depend on issues like public safety and infrastructure.

“The biggest issue in the Third District is there needs to be a lot of safety, is number one. Infrastructure would be number two,” said Cox-Stover.

“If you go in several areas in District Three, it’s been probably, I would say, over 17 years since any of the alleys were done, and there are several alleys that you cannot get through at all.”

She said overgrown alleys – she referenced one nicknamed The Cove because of heavy overgrowth – contribute to safety concerns as places where “wrongful activity” can happen.

“I think we need to clear those alleys more; we need to work on that infrastructure,” added Cox-Stover.

Collins, meanwhile, said his discussions with Third District constituents indicate the area, which runs across Kokomo’s east side down to southern Kokomo, need improved sidewalks and lighting.

“Out in the Indian Heights area the other day, passing out signs, we also need some speed bumps,” he said.

“That would be my biggest thing: sidewalks, lighting and safety,” added Collins, who said the district’s biggest asset is its potential for growth, citing opportunities at places like the Carver Community Center and the presence of recent growth that already exists in new businesses like Brad Howell Ford.

Cox-Stover, meanwhile, pointed to the “couple of new crime watch areas, or we should say, get-togethers” that have been created in the Third District, citing the ability of people in the district to work together and accomplish growth.

“Between the people and the crime watches and the new businesses, there’s definitely room for growth,” she said.

Both candidates also responded to a question centered on recent accusations that the city administration is not utilizing the KPD budget to staff a proper number of officers by saying they would speak out about similar situations in the future.

“I think that as a citizen of Kokomo and as a person that’s representing my district, I have that right to ask questions,” said Collins.

Added Cox-Stover: “I would ask the questions because it is the tax dollars of the citizens here in Kokomo.”

They agreed, too, that it is incumbent on residents to create a close-knit community that can work with police officers and each other to create the safety sought by each candidate running in this year’s election.

Finally, Cox-Stover and Collins addressed the issue of Kokomo’s free trolley service.

Cox-Stover said she supports the program and keeping it free, explaining she fought during the trolley’s nascent stages to expand routes, specifically by stretching it from Southway Boulevard to Center Road.

“We get certain money for that, and if we do not do the trolley program then that money just goes away,” she noted.

Collins said he supports the trolley system but noted he will “never say never that something can’t have a charge because if I can predict stuff like that I wouldn’t be sitting up here. I’d be on the Internet selling that.”

“I do support it, it’s a great way for people to get around town, and I do support it as long as the funds are there to make it free,” he added.

George Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at george.myers@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @gmyerskt.

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