Six candidates for local office squared off debate-style at the high school the afternoon of October 20, exactly seven days before early voting begins here and across the state.
It was the second election forum organized by The Press this year and featured a more lively format allowing candidates to respond to their opponent’s answers.
The first forum in late July did not include rebuttals and each candidate for the same office answered the same questions. This time around, some questions were posed to specific candidates while others were answered by all the commission or sheriff candidates.
Questions were collected from both readers and the newspaper’s staff during the weeks leading up to the debate, which started at 3 pm in the school auditorium and drew 100-200 attendees. Commission hopefuls fielded nine questions and the sheriff candidates seven.
Below are highlights from the event, but you can see all the action at the following links: sheriff debate (20 min) or commission debate (29 min).
County commission debate
Candidates for county commission took the stage first, addressing issues like the Barber Road closure, sand mining, their political affiliation and others during the 40-minute portion of the program dedicated to the county’s governing board.
Democrat Mark Hartley, the District 5 incumbent, is facing Republican Eddie Davis, Jr. while Gordon Crews, the board’s current chairman and a Democrat, is up against Republican Leonard Davis in the District 3 race.
Their first question from debate moderator and Press publisher Jim McGauley: “Why would you be a better commissioner than your opponent?”
Both incumbents said their respective experience on the commission and in the community sets them apart from their challengers.
Mr. Crews pointed to his eight years on the board and his nurse management experience in Fraser Hospital’s ER. Mr. Hartley cited his 12 years in office and ample volunteer work in the community.
Leonard Davis leaned on his resume as well, noting his experience in the Civil Service managing large budgets, planning, and developing policies and procedures for the government.
“I think we (the county) need more detailed policies and procedures ... and more long-range planning,” he said.
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