(PUEBLO, Colo.) — With a crowded field of nine candidates, the race for Pueblo Mayor is heating up. FOX21 is your local election headquarters and we’re taking a closer look at one of the contenders who ran in 2018 and is returning to the political arena, Tom Croshal.

Despite not being a career politician, Croshal is gaining attention for his extensive research and innovative ideas to address some of the city’s most pressing issues, including crime and homelessness.

Croshal says nothing differs from his 2018 campaign, except the problems Pueblo faces.

“We still have the same problems we had five years ago, the only difference is they are a lot bigger,” Croshal explained. “Homicides are up 250%, violent crime is up close to 200%, homelessness up 200%. Public transportation is still where it was, nothing is improved.”

Croshal said he’s the right candidate to make a difference.

“I’m not a politician, I’m not political,” Croshal said. “I’m just an everyday guy who cares about his city and cares about the people who live here.”

Croshal is a retired small business owner with over 40 years of experience in construction. Since the 2018 election, Croshal has researched and developed a bold plan that he hopes can move Pueblo in the right direction.

Pueblo has been grappling with rising crime rates and a growing homeless population. Croshal believes both issues can be tackled together.

“All you have to do is your research and you’ll find that the homeless do commit a lot of crime, and I’m not talking about homicides, but it’s a lot of petty crime,” Croshal said.

Croshal believes the homeless take up most of law enforcement’s time with harassment calls. He wants to build additional homeless shelters and increase access to mental health resources.

“Once we can solve that homeless problem, that’s going to alleviate that problem for the police,” Croshal said.

Croshal is dissatisfied with the current administration. This month, Pueblo City Council passed a resolution to open a real-time crime center in the city.

“The Mayor and Police Cheif want to do a real-time crime center, well, that’s going to cost another $2.3 million,” Croshal explained. “I just don’t see the real-time crime center as being a benefit. What Pueblo needs is real-time policing.”

Croshal said the real-time crime center requires $750,000 annually to staff it.

“I would rather take that $750,000 and put it into hiring more officers or maybe giving bonuses to officers,” Croshal explained.

The retired business owner would redirect funding from the real-time crime center for a different approach.

“I think if we were to take a fraction of the $2.3 million, let’s say $300,000, we can add 300 solar-powered LED motion-activated streetlights throughout Pueblo where we have the crime problems,” Croshal explained. “On those 300 light poles, we can add 300 solar-powered cameras, and in addition to that we can add 20 license plate readers to areas where we know there’s going to be crime.”

Croshal said he would use the remainder of the $2.3 million to find shelter for the homeless. In addition, Croshal believes the city’s budget needs restructuring.

“I’ve had the same pothole in front of my house for over 20 years and I’m okay with it,” Croshal explained. “I would rather see us put that money towards solving some other issues, I think we can wait on the infrastructure projects. At some point, they have to get done, but I would rather see that money going towards public transportation or towards building a shelter for the homeless.”

Croshal has a lot of pride for his city and wants to capitalize on the many positives Pueblo has to offer.

“If you really want change, all I can say is vote for me,” Croshal said. “I will give you change and I will give you positive change.”

Pueblo County election offices will begin mailing ballots to registered voters on Oct. 16.