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Cleveland mayoral candidates meet face-to-face for first time ahead of primary election

Candidates pitched their proposals to the Latino community at the Spanish American Committee.

CLEVELAND — It was a pivotal night in the race for mayor in Cleveland, as all seven candidates who will be on the ballot took their pitch to the Latino community.

"We have been here for 55 years," Ramonita Vargas, director of the Spanish American Committee, said Thursday. "This organization has heard over and over again that [candidates] are going to support the Latino community." 

From safety and workforce inclusion to education and immigration, all seven candidates made their case to the Latino community, which represents more than 12% of Cleveland's population.

Justin Bibb promised to work on education, finances, an efficient City Hall, and public safety

"We need more effective policing and the right staffing levels to meet our needs"

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who originally served as mayor from 1977-79, focused on health care and his Spanish-speaking skills. However, he ended up leaving early, disappointing those in attendance.

State Sen. Sandra Williams used her time to tackle workforce development and public safety, as well as to send a message to immigrants.

“They are all welcome in the city of Cleveland."

City Council President Kevin Kelley promised to work on city development, investment, and inclusion.

"We need to make sure that we get Hispanic people into the trades, into the medical field."

Former City Councilman Zack Reed targeted public safety and racism.

"They need someone who goes there on day one, ready to get the job done."

Councilman Basheer Jones raised his voice about gentrification and crime in the neighborhood.

"We are on the ground, grassroots since before election."

Finally, Ross DiBello promises to reduce crime by attacking poverty.

"It’s a socioeconomic problem. ... Work with the community, listen to everybody."

As far as the Hispanic community goes, Ramonita says she will keep taking notes until Election Day on Nov. 2. 

"Lets see what happens, because sometimes people talk, talk, talk, and you never know what happens."