Coming in March: A mayoral forum on gun violence, with community-sourced questions and a focus on solutions

A group of people stand together in the middle of a street holding photographs.

Voices by Choices members at a an MLK Day event remembering 7-year-old Zamar Jones. fatally shot in the summer of 2020 in West Philly Voices by Choices members at a an MLK Day event remembering 7-year-old Zamar Jones. fatally shot in the summer of 2020 in West Philly. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on Billy Penn, and is a part of the Every Voice, Every Vote series.

What questions do you have about the 2023 elections? What major issues do you want candidates to address? Let us know.

Every person running to be Philly’s next mayor talks about doing better to solve the city’s gun violence epidemic. Which of their plans make the most sense?

To help voters answer that question, Billy Penn and WHYY are partnering with the CeaseFirePA Education Fund to host the “100th Mayor: Restoring Safety Forum” in early March.

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Public safety is a top concern for anyone who lives and works in the city, with good reason. Philadelphia experienced nearly 1,000 gun homicides over the last two years. And while the pandemic saw shootings spike in urban centers across the nation, Philly has yet to see the steep drop-off some other cities began to record last year.

There’s no shortage of ideas on how to curb violence, from addressing root causes to funding conflict resolution to changing the way police are deployed. And moving the needle on a citywide level will take more than just identifying good concepts. It will take leadership and coordination.

The declared mayoral candidates – here’s a list of who’s running — began to make their cases for why they’re the best to take on the crisis at a forum held mid-January at St. Joseph’s University.

But especially with such a large field of contenders, there’s a lot more to discuss, and more that people want to know. To shape the discussion at the 100th Mayor: Restoring Safety Forum and help develop questions, WHYY hosted community listening sessions in heavily impacted neighborhoods.

“The mayor’s first priority must be to make Philadelphians feel and be safe at their home, school, park and work” said Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA executive director. “Now the community will have a chance to drive the questions so candidates can explain what they see driving gun violence and how they’d shift directions to prevent this epidemic from continuing.”

The forum will be held at WHYY’s Independence Mall headquarters from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, with an audience invited from the community.

Anyone will be able to watch and listen to the broadcast via livestream, as candidates share a stage and moderators ask questions designed to help differentiate among the various tactics, strategies and approaches.

The event is part of “Every Voice, Every Vote,” a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism with funding from the William Penn Foundation.

This story is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. Learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters here.

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