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Lafayette City Council Candidates Debate Public Safety, Opioids, Education

Lee Shaw

Some of the candidates for Lafayette City Council squared off in their final debate before next month’s election Thursday night.


A recently-passed public safety tax figured prominently in the back-and-forth between candidates for Lafayette’s Second District, which forms a large portion of Lafayette’s western boundary.

Incumbent Democrat Ron Campbell says he supports Mayor Tony Roswarski’s plan for using the additional revenue on a new police station and training center.

“They are sharing a headquarters now with a larger staff and I think we’re going to have to satisfy their needs by building more,” Campbell says.

But his challenger, Republican Mary Fisher, says she’d rather see the cash spent on additional officers and squad cars patrolling the city.

“Taxes were recently increased for this budget to provide more safety for the community," Fisher says. "I feel that adding more troops, possible, would be a better expenditure than improving on our existing structures.”


In the Sixth District, which represents much of the northeast portion of the city, candidates framed their desire for better public safety as a need for better education, as well as a separation of church and…sports.

Both incumbent Democrat Bob Downing and Republican challenger Perry Barbee say curtailing the city’s opioid crisis through education is a top priority. But Barbee says schoolchildren need another type of message, too.

“One thing – people’s not gonna like this next thing – We gotta make sure we bring religion back in schools," Barbee says. "I think that’s where our problem is. We gotta get religion back where it needs to be.”

Downing framed his candidacy – and his support for Mayor Tony Roswarski and the other incumbent Democrats running alongside him – as backing for what he considers a winning team.

“When I started my career in education, I also became a high school coach. The teams that had the most success were not the ones with a star player. Rather, a group of individuals who cared for each other and were united by common goals,” he says.

Downing is one of eight Democrats on the nine-member council, all of whom are seeking re-election this year, along with the lone Republican incumbent Jerry Reynolds. Roswarski is unopposed in his bid for a fifth term as mayor.

Election Day is November 5, though early voting has already begun in Tippecanoe County.