A lot of the talk at Thursday's candidates' forum had to do with young people.
One of the questions from the audience was on what youth services each mayoral candidate planned.
Mayoral candidate Bridget Rivers said, "Our youth, our millennials are important," but quickly added, "Our youth are lost" and said a community center is needed.
Rev. Tracey Brown, also running for mayor, said she has a background in counseling. She said young people need a place to go and while other youth centers close before dark, young people 18 and over are still on the street, so a center needs later hours and also job counseling.
Making his first foray into Plainfield by running for mayor, Dr. Henrilynn Ibezim chided the others for "talking about things that should have been done 20 years ago" and said it is time for change and a new direction.
Incumbent Mayor Adrian O. Mapp said $1.7 million will be invested in a "multi-service sports facility" and also hailed a new skate park for youth. He mentioned job training and nanotechnology and said, "We are focusing on the whole person."
On combating crime and gang violence, Brown and Ibezim both said jobs would help keep young people off the streets. Mapp noted he had 62 students shadow City Hall staff last Monday (with an eye to future careers) and also held "Mayor for a Day" sessions for students.
Among council candidates, Steve Hockaday advocated coding and STEM education, noting the film "Hidden Figures," and said he wanted Plainfield to become the "Silicon Valley of the East." Elliott Simmons said children should be educated about gang violence, but also be shown love.
"It sounds kind of corny, going back to the '60s," he said, calling for "love and understanding."
Cameron Cox mentioned the Boys & Girls Club as a resource.
In response to a question on helping young girls at risk of incarceration, Joylette Mills-Ransome said there are sororities "that reach out very early to young ladies."
"The engagement piece is very important to them," she said.
"Reach out to the resources we already have," Terri Briggs said.
Briggs, Simmons and Hockaday are all running for the Fourth Ward seat. Cox, Mills-Ransome and Alma Blanco are vying for a one-year unexpired term representing the Second & Third Wards at-large. (Blanco was ill and did not attend the forum.)
See the Shiloh Baptist Church Facebook page for videos of the mayoral and council forums.
The League of Women Voters candidates' forum is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 at Emerson Community School, 305 Emerson Ave. All the candidates are Democrats running in the June 6 primary.