Mayor Kip Holden, who is seeking a third term, and his leading opponent, Councilman Mike Walker, tussled over traffic, economic development, and crime at a debate hosted by Southern University Monday night.
In his opening statement, Walker blamed the incumbent for chronic break-ins and homicides in the city-parish.
"Ladies and gentleman, the number one responsibility of public officials is public safety, and quite frankly, I think that's something that Mayor Holden has forgotten," Walker said.
Walker said he would combat crime with more narcotics officers, a reserve unit, and a misdemeanor jail.
Holden said he is adding officers to the force and points to a range of programs aimed at steering youth away from crime. He said Walker, a 12-year metro-council veteran, is a Johnny-come-lately on the issue.
"Where was he the other 12 years? He was in the lost and found section until the time came to run for mayor," Holden said.
Challenger Steve Myers, who's running without a party affiliation, found himself in the crossfire when the debate turned to traffic.
When Myers gave Walker credit for the quality of roads in his district, Holden said that was a result of his Green Light Program.
"I hate politics," Myers said.