STOCKTON (CBS13) – The problems in Stockton are well documented. The city is bankrupt and homicides are on pace to break the record set just last year. The people living there are running out of patience.

On Monday, the candidates for mayor laid out their plans to turn the troubled, broke city around.

Crime is a concern on a lot of citizens’ minds.

Aaron Helsby’s 7-year-old daughter Arin and 8-year-old son Noah are taking karate, and part of their training includes what to do when confronted with a weapon.

“They are doing a lot of self-defense – hand-to-knife takeaways and hand-to-gun takeaways because of violence in this city,” he said.

He’s seen crime rise in his neighborhood, so it’s no surprise that is his biggest question for the two mayoral candidates.

“I would like to know what they are going to do to improve our city to make it safer,” he said.

Crime was, as expected, the dominant theme at Monday’s candidate’s forum, where current Mayor Ann Johnston and challenger Anthony Silva faced off.

“This is outrageous and this is not a fairy tale and this is not a movie,” Silva said “This is a reality here in Stockton.” :

“We’ve been working very hard to address the crime problem and we are going to get the guns and the gangs off the street,” Johnston said.

The two also debated Stockton’s bankruptcy, with Silva blaming Johnston’s years on the council for the city’s financial collapse.

“I keep asking myself the same question: ‘Can Stockton afford four more years of Ann Johnston?'” he said.

But Johnston says it’s that experience that will be needed to get Stockton’s finances back in the black.

“It is important that this city has strong determined leadership that knows where it’s been and knows where it is going,” she said.

Aaron just hopes that whoever wins will do everything possible to protect what’s most precious to him.

“My major concern is just having them outside and having them not get shot,” he said of his kids.

The city has already implemented several plans to try to curb crime. It is still too early to tell what impact they’ve had.

The city has had 50 murders so far this year. It had 58 last year.


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