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Quad Cities Interfaith hosts candidate forum ahead of Illinois primary

Community members were able to ask Rock Island County Sheriff and Illinois House of Representatives District 72 candidates questions during a forum Tuesday night.

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — Democratic candidates running for Rock Island County Sheriff and District 72 for the Illinois House of Representatives addressed the community at a forum Tuesday night.

The forum, held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, attracted several dozens of people ahead of the June 28 primary election. It was organized by Quad Cities Interfaith.

Candidates for Rock Island County Sheriff include Democrats Darren Hart and Marcus Herbert and Republican Patrick Moody. Moody was not at the forum.

Hart and Herbert addressed what they want to focus on as sheriff. Both cited the short staffed local police departments and said the county needs to work to retain the officers it has and proactively recruit more.

They also agreed that they want law enforcement to be more involved in the community. 

Community members had lots of questions related to gun violence and safety in schools. One asked if the two candidates would support arming teachers in the classroom, but both said they would not advocate for that. Instead, Hart and Herbert voiced their support for the school resource officer programs. 

Candidates for the Illinois House of Representatives include Democrats Jeffrey Deppe, Gregg Johnson and Thurgood Brooks and Republican Tom Martens. Only Johnson and Brooks were at the forum.

The two faced questions about equality, the criminal justice system and the environment.

"I think we need to continue to invest in infrastructure," Johnson told News 8. "We need to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our streets, our communities, so we still have people. We've got to start luring people back into the area."

"Access and opportunity, and there's a myriad of ways we're gonna get that done," Brooks said. "Working with our unions, working with our businesses, working with real people. Make sure our environment is secure and make sure we can provide good paying jobs by taking care of our environment."

Johnson and Brooks also addressed gun violence and safety in schools.

"We do need to talk about gun safety," Johnson said. "What's going on out there isn't working. As I alluded to earlier, we should not be terrified every time our kids go to school and worried something's going to happen to them."

"I'm not saying get rid of guns," Thurgood said. "I appreciate the Second Amendment, but there's a way in which in 2022, we can ensure safety and make sure that people who are mentally stable to have guns have access to them in a way which they should and not at a rate as if we're going to war."

The primary election in Illinois is Tuesday, June 28. Early voting ends on June 27.

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