**FILE** D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds (Courtesy photo)
**FILE** D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds (Courtesy photo)

Public safety, additional senior wellness centers, and the D.C. government’s strategy for dealing with residents with ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease emerged Tuesday as the main topics at a virtual forum for at-large D.C. Council hopefuls jointly sponsored by the Ward 3 and Ward 4 Democratic Clubs.

Council member Anita Bonds (At-Large), alongside her opponents in the upcoming June 21 Democratic primary — Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Gore, former D.C. Shadow Rep. Nate Fleming and political activist Dexter Williams — answered questions from Washington Informer reporter James Wright, who moderated the forum.

In the wake of the elementary school massacre at Uvalde, Texas, earlier in the day and polls showing residents’ concern about the high rate of crime in the city, public safety became the chief topic of discussion.

“In order to make sure our residents are safe, we need a comprehensive and more targeted approach to fighting crime,” Williams said. “What is needed is an aggressive and intensive program and people who have credibility in the streets fighting crime.”

Fleming pointed out an incident earlier this year in which he was carjacked and said many who are involved in criminal activity need job training and employment. He also added the city’s summer youth jobs program needs to be conducted throughout the year.

Bonds said high crime has become all too common in the lives of residents and that the city government has a number of programs to address crime, but they need time to work.

Gore said young people need to be engaged in job training programs and proposed the resurrection of vocational schools to steer them clear of criminal activity.

It was noted that Ward 3, along with Ward 2, doesn’t have a senior wellness center while the other wards have at least one. The lack of a center in Ward 3 is particularly problematic because census data shows the ward has the highest population of seniors in the city, as was noted during the forum.

The Ward 3 Democrats and the advisory neighborhoods commissions in the ward have passed resolutions requesting a senior wellness center. However, the D.C. Department of Aging reportedly has told Ward 3 leaders that the need for a senior wellness center is not compelling.

Each of the candidates supported funding a Ward 3 senior wellness center. Fleming said he helped Ward 8 get a second senior wellness center as a staffer for D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and will do so for Ward 3 if elected.

The candidates also said they will work to aid residents who are caregivers for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Fleming, Gore and Williams described their experiences caregiving for loved ones who are seriously ill and the toll it takes on them.

The candidates said if elected, they are open to supporting legislation delegating more city funds for specialized care centers and support groups.

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