Candidate forums offer valuable insights into local politics

Sep 20, 2016

As in past years, The Mountaineer will be offering candidate forums for candidates seeking local political offices. The forums, whether seen in person or viewed on the Haywood County public television channel, offer valuable insights into the people offering to serve you. It is one thing to read the information a candidate wants to share on a mailer or the attacks against a candidate compiled by the statewide political parties.

It a totally different experience to personally hear the candidates talk about issues not framed by their own campaign, see their expressions and demeanor when they respond to questions and judge their ability to accomplish what they promise.

Again, there will be two forums for local candidates. Those seeking legislative seats for House districts 118 and 119, as well as Senate District 50 will be at the Sept. 29 forum. About 20 minutes will be allowed for each of the three races. The rest of the forum will feature the four county commissioner candidates seeking two seats on the county’s governing board.

The Oct. 4 forum will feature the contested district judge race as well as the school board candidates. All these races are nonpartisan, so voters will need to know the candidates as well as the issues. In the  Beaverdam district three newcomers are vying for two spots on the board where incumbents Walt Leatherwood and Rhonda Schandevel are not running.

In the Waynesville district, where two seats are  up for grabs, incumbent Jim Harley Francis will be on the ballot with four others.

The school board chairman post is also on the ballot this year. Incumbent Chuck Francis will face Craig Messer in this race.

Both forums begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Historic Courthouse courtroom where the commissioner meetings are held. The forums will be videotaped and broadcast regularly prior to the Nov. 9 General Election.

Those who have questions they would like to submit for candidates to address can email them to In the event your question is not among those selected for the forum, there will be a chance afterward to pose it directly to the candidate.

Voting is a privilege, but one that carries a great deal of responsibility. When voters make an informed choice, and can back up their positions by facts, it is more likely they can influence the outcome of elections.

There is a great deal of interest in the presidential election this year, as is always the case, so voters will be flocking to the polls in far greater numbers than usual.

Chances are, however, that the votes cast for the local candidates are far more likely to impact the everyday situation here in Haywood County than any state or national races included on the ballot.

Take a few minutes to learn about local issues by attending the candidate forums, making an effort to become acquainted with your neighbors who have offered to serve you by seeking election and then voting on Election Day.

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