NEW BEDFORD - Following a forum that featured the three candidates for City Councilor of Ward Four, the candidates for Mayor of New Bedford held one of their own at the Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School on Tuesday night.

However, only one of the three candidates showed up. Mayor Jon Mitchell was in Washington D.C. on other business. No explanation was found for the absence of mayoral candidate Mitchell Garner. Candidate Charlie Perry had the microphone all to himself as he answered questions about increasing the value of the harbor, city crime, panhandling, and more.

On the issue of how to deal with panhandling in the Whaling City, Perry says that he doesn't believe in disrupting someone's first amendment right to hold up a sign or to ask for money. However, he argues that once the panhandler decides to approach people and vehicles individually is when the line is crossed.

“If someone gets off the curb and they approach a vehicle I have a problem with that. That's when the person-the panhandler, gets disorderly,” Perry said. “So you address it, you charge them with disorderly, bring them to court, and deal with it,” he said.

Perry was also questioned about the national opioid epidemic that has its grip on the Bay State. The candidate was asked what he feels is the best way to reduce the amount of users. He says that “addiction programs have to be combined” to reduce the numbers of current users and to prevent future ones.

“We have to get those two, prevention and addiction programs, together in the same building with the same mindset,” Perry explained.

The forum was moderated by two familiar and well-known South Coast newsmen: Jack Spillane of the Standard Times and WBSM's Jim Phillips.

Preliminary elections for Mayor of New Bedford will be held on October 3rd with the Final Election scheduled for November 3rd.

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