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Mayoral Debate Was Polite and Passionate

The two candidates for mayor of Columbus argued fiercely in support of different ways to handle the major issues facing the city.

Republican challenger William Todd and Democratic Incumbent Michael Coleman met Wednesday for the only scheduled debate of the campaign. The performance of Columbus Public Schools was a major point of contention.

Columbus attorney Todd has filed suit against the school district, alleging unfair and inequitable education among schools in the city school district. He calls for an evacuation of students from poorly performing schools.

Todd says while Mayor Coleman does have an office of education, it has spent only $7 million in eight years - in Todd's words, a "miniscule effort" compared to the $660 million annual budget of the city school district. Todd thinks the mayor's office should take over the Columbus public schools. Coleman says a mayoral takeover is just a slogan, and "slogans don't help kids."

Coleman points to what he calls practical partnerships between the city and the school district. Those include an after school program for 6,600 children, mentors in schools, summer jobs for 2,000 young people and a stepped-up truancy effort which Coleman says has helped to increase the district's attendance rate to 93 percent.