By Jack Fink

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – With hundreds of people watching, four of the ten candidates running for Fort Worth Mayor discussed where they stand on the issues relating to businesses.

Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples, Council member Ann Zadeh, Mattie Parker, a former Chief of Staff for the City Council and Mayor, and Daniel Caldwell took part in the forum on Wednesday, April 14.

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It was sponsored by the Fort Worth Chamber, Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The candidates are vying to succeed Mayor Betsy Price who’s retiring after ten years, which makes her the city’s longest-serving Mayor.

They were each asked about recent headlines involving CEO’s who’ve criticized election bills being considered by state lawmakers and how it would impact them as Mayor.

Parker said, “Anytime your CEO’s are speaking up out of concern, we have to listen, especially in a city that’s trying to grow jobs and the economy. It’s not lost on me that we’re being hosted by three Chambers of Commerce. I think we allow our businesses to speak loudly to our state delegation and federal delegation.”

Zadeh said the Mayor needs to stand up and fight for voting rights. “It saddens me everyday to see the limited number of people to participate in our voting process and so anything that limits that is something that we should stand up loudly about not supporting going forward.”

Peoples said inclusiveness is key.

“I know what businesses are looking for and anything that limits diversity and inclusion is bad for business. And as your Mayor, I’m going to be out there representing everyone.”

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Caldwell said the Mayor shouldn’t overstep the position’s authority.

“He can discourage legislators from passing restrictions to the ease of voting, but he can’t pass much on policy that would do so.”

The candidates were also asked what they can do to attract entrepreneurs to the city.

Peoples said, “I want to be the arts mayor. Art is this great unifier. I was in five different communities yesterday visiting with small businesses and talking about how we highlight them and I said what would happen if we had some public art here to drive them into the neighborhood.”

Zadeh agreed the public art can attract entrepreneurs. “Every neighborhood should have art and that does exist in our city. And we’ve been partnering with Visit Fort Worth to highlight all of the neighborhoods in our city as well because that is a tourist attraction. But what also attracts tourists, can also be beneficial to those who already live there.”

Parker said art is one of a variety of business sectors that can attract entrepreneurs. “Everything from bio-tech, media-film, arts, restaurants, tech, you need an accelerator in each of those categories, that is well-funded both nonprofits, public-private partnerships to ensure that opening young entrepreneurs feel supported in the city of Fort Worth.“

Another Council Member who was set to participate in the forum, Dr. Brian Byrd, missed it because of an illness according to a campaign spokesman.

Election day is Saturday May 1, and early voting begins Monday.

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Residents in Arlington and Plano are electing new mayors as well.