Candidates vying to be Meridian's next mayor were invited to participate in an open forum Tuesday before the Meridian Board of Realtors at Northwood Country Club.
All the candidates spoke, except for Joe Norwood, who is out of town on business, and William Bond Compton, Jr., who is a teacher and could not attend.
On the issues, candidates answered tough questions from the group about their plans for fixing city streets, assessing condemned houses in the city and improving the education system.
"The way to do that is to clean up our community," said Republican Cheri Barry. "The way to do that is to have good public school systems. The way to do that is to fix our infrastructure, our streets, our roads, our potholes, our bridges."
"There's no reason why you have, on one side of the street the beautiful Riley Center, and then from a rock's throw across the street it looks like that. That is unacceptable to the city of Meridian," said Democrat Percy Bland.
"And I also believe that the people must be involved in this process," said Democrat Casandra Sloan. "Because for so long, the people have been taken out of this."
All candidates said they will continue working on the city projects that are already in place, such city hall renovations, the Threefoot project and plans for a new police station.
This is the first local political forum of the campaign season, but others are planned. For instance, the Meridian Housing Authority is coordinating another mayor's forum for Mar. 25 at 3:30 p.m. at the Sowashee Courts Community Center on St. Luke Street off 29th Avenue.