Primary elections are coming sooner than you think.
Polls will open as early as 7 a.m. Aug. 28, and mail-in voting and early voting will have already taken place. With elections right around the corner, the question is: Who are the candidates?
The League of Women Voters is conducting regular panels, giving candidates the opportunity to answer questions on how they would improve Leon County and allowing community members to learn more about the candidates.
Candidates such as Emily Fritz, Rick Minor, Carlos Rey, Kyle Frost and Rex Rekstis are vying for the Leon County Commission, District 3 seat. They gathered on Tuesday to discuss their platform points and what their intentions are for Leon County’s future.
One major question asked was: How can Tallahassee and Leon County better work together to solve community problems including public safety, crime and gun violence?
Leon County has been plagued with crime, remaining the No. 1 county in the state per capita with the most crime in the last three years, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The candidates had different answers as to how they would deal with crime and safety. One main solution some of the candidates had in common is to add more law enforcement.
Frost suggested having “community policing projects, making sure that our officers aren’t just there to enforce the law but be a part of the community. We need to make sure that our young children that are in the area especially the lower income areas that are obstructed with these crime problems, they’ll grow up seeing the police as bad guys and they need to be the people that the can go to, talk to, seek out when they need help.”
Minor agreed with Frost adding, “The simple thing, it’s not rocket science, is community policing. The federal cops program basically funding local law enforcement officers throughout the cities and United States and around that time throughout the 90s you started to see a nationwide decline in the crime rate.”
Both said that trust has to be the main focus between law enforcement and residents in order for the crime rates to decrease and for public safety to increase.
Other candidates had differing perspectives on how to deal with crime and public safety.
Rekstis believes the first thing to improve the police equipment, “I do ride along with the deputies or sheriffs and if anything, they need is more equipment as far as their response. There’s one deputy that I work with who is out in the middle of the woods and has no way to communicate with anybody.”
Fritz’s solution to assist in crime is to go through the system, changing the system of how officials operate to create change in the police force. “One of the problems that have been happening at the city is that the police department is getting micromanaged by the people at the top. I’ve talked to police officers. They are so frustrated. I had a police officer tell me, and he’s retired, he got so frustrated that sometimes he didn’t do what he should’ve done because he had to go through internal affairs and be criticized for his actions. That tells me he did not feel supported. I do think the county can work better together with the city.”