NEW BEDFORD - Candidates seeking public office in New Bedford participated in the forum in anticipation of the final election next week. The event invited candidates for School Committee, Councillor At-Large, Ward Four City Councilor, and Mayor.

The two candidates running for Councillor of New Bedford's Ward Four faced off, answering questions relating to the city budget to the crime rate and more.

Candidate Joseph “Jo Jo” Fortes set the tone for the forum right out of the gate when he presented a record of Rebeiro's attendance to city council meetings during her time in office. Fortes continually attacked the incumbent on what he calls her “lack of attendance” to the meetings. Fortes announced that he handed his copies of Rebeiro's attendance to the media.

“Most of the committee meetings I miss are the award meetings,” replied Rebeiro. “I don't give a lot of citations away, so I don't attend those. I prefer to do work and do other meetings to get things done. I know that we used to have citations meetings before city council meetings and sometimes those would go on for 45 minutes to an hour if I wasn't giving a citation would usually cut into a meeting where things were getting done," she said.

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Fortes claimed during the forum that Rebeiro has missed over half of the meetings from 2016 to 2017. It was found in the records provided by Fortes that the majority of meetings Rebeiro missed last year were for Appointments and Briefings meetings.

Matthew Costa/Townsquare Media

Another hot topic for the candidates was the opioid crisis and what they feel should be done to stop it. Councillor Rebeiro says that the city has always had drug problems and that attention to the issue has only risen because addiction is starting to affect wealthier classes of people.

“We've had drug problems before in New Bedford but it affected a different population, a poor population, a population of color, so there was not empathy, there was a war on drugs. Now that it's a different population we have more empathy,” Rebeiro said.

Fortes continued his attack on Rebeiro, this time referencing the recent 9-1 vote by City Council to support Governor Charlie Baker's initiative to sentence drug dealers whose sale leads to a death with manslaughter.

“It passed at the city council 9-1, and one person rejected it and that's the Councillor beside me,” Fortes said. “So lets' be real. We want to take the drug dealers off the street. We want to recapture our and regain our city, our neighborhoods, and our community.”

The final election is scheduled for November 7th.