CONWAY, Ark. – Crime, its sources and the government’s response were the focus of a debate Thursday between candidates vying to represent the 2nd district of Arkansas in the United States Congress.

Republican Rep. French Hill is the incumbent. He was joined on stage by Democrat Quintessa Hathaway and Libertarian Michael White. They talked about issues impacting central Arkansas including crime.

White said the government should be involved in as little criminal response as possible, but that federal and state partners are necessary in fighting crime.

“A vast number of things we consider to be crime are not,” White said. “No victim should mean no crime. We delegate and use a vast number of limited law enforcement resources investigating things that are not in fact crimes.”

Hathaway said underlying issues like food insecurity and housing must be addressed to fight crime’s root causes.

“It is time for us to look at real solutions and look at money being pushed down by the Build Safer Communities Act to help states and municipalities to greatly address the disparities that are happening in our penal system,” Hathaway said.

Hill said the response to crime starts at a local level and builds upward. He said rhetoric is important in addressing the problem.

“I reject the national Democratic Party’s mantra of defunding the police,” Hill said. “We need to be funding the police and supporting our police to helping them recruit new generations of leadership in police.”

The candidates also discussed inflation, the national deficit and renewable energy.