NEW BEDFORD - The three candidates for Ward Four City Councilor attended a forum held at Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School on Tuesday night.

Current City Councilor Dana Rebeiro joined candidates Joseph Fortes and Kevin Gilbert to field questions about crime, city taxes, and education, and even more topics surrounding the responsibilities of the position. The forum was moderated by two well-known names in the south coast, the Standard Times' Jack Spillane and WBSM's own Jim Phillips.

Rebeiro took a strong stance on the topic of combatting crime in the city, and says that reducing poverty in New Bedford goes hand-in-hand with reducing the crime rate. Rebeiro also argues that the “villainization” young minorities contributes to crime in the city and that more opportunities need to be made available for them.

“When we talk about crime it's amazing to me that the next word out of our mouths is not 'poverty',” Rebeiro said. “We need to work harder and better to develop opportunity. What I will not do (if re-elected) is villainize young brown and black boys,” she added.

Joseph Fortes says it's critical to continue to build the bond between city youth and their community policing, so that they can learn to appreciate and take care of the area where they live.

“I believe that we need to have more collaboration introducing our children with community policing,” Fortes said. “I will be looking to take care of issues that plague our neighborhoods. You best-believe that as a Councilor I will do my best to address those needs.”

Fortes was also vocal when it came to the city budget and what he would aim to change in it lower the burden on taxpayers, if elected. He argues that the city gives too many high-paying jobs to people who don't live in New Bedford.

“There is people in top management who are making good money that didn't even live here. If you cared and believed in the city like how I feel about it when I go to bed and how I care about the city, and other people in the audience and people who live in the city, make them live here,” Fortes explained.

Candidate Kevin Gilbert says he understands and relates to New Bedford tax payers, but says at the end of the day it'll be something the city has to solve.

“A lot of us pay taxes but there are ways the city can cut the taxes, but we just have to figure that out,” Gilbert said.

The three candidates were allowed a one-minute closing remark following questions from the audience at the end of the forum. At the beginning of the event, they were allowed three minutes to introduce themselves to those in attendance and make their case for city councilor.

Preliminary Elections are scheduled for October 3rd.

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