COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson and challenger John Anker have been on the campaign trail in advance of the May 24 election.

One of the questions each of the candidates is the status of Police Chief Freddie Blackmon.

Blackmon came under fire this year when the Fraternal Order of Police presented a no-confidence vote to the mayor and Columbus Council.

Blackmon was hired by Henderson and the city Council in October 2020. The mayor is the city’s public safety director and Henderson has stood by the chief as the pressure from inside and outside the department mounted.

Anker is careful in his wording when asked about the police chief.

Here is what Anker and the mayor had to say earlier today about the chief.

“You know Freddie Blackmon could have had more success under a stronger public safety leader than he has had thus far – and that would have been me,” Anker said. “So, whether or not I am going to change in that area, right now, today, I can not tell you because I sit on the opposite side of the table from him. I don’t sit on the same side with him. But I will tell you that I do have the courage to make the hard decisions. Because it’s not about one man. It’s not about Freddie Blackmon, it’s not about one man. It’s also not about Skip, it’s not about John Anker. It’s about the citizens.”

Henderson stands by the chief.

“I think one of the more challenging things that Freddie has had to face, that Chief Blackmon has had to face, we have had an ongoing issue with attrition our police department. It goes back 10 years,” Henderson said. “And when we came in, we were determined to start to address it. It’s not a quick fix. Particularly in today’s society where you had the ‘defund the police’ narrative. We had a local DA that ended up losing all of our ADAs and made very public statements about holding police accountable. So, to have to make that transition, in a year of COVID with all of these outside influences, you have to give him a chance to exercise his leadership.”