Mayoral forums to spark debate

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

A second political forum, geared at educating Demopolis voters about candidates in the Aug. 24 mayoral election, will be held Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6:15 p.m. at the Demopolis Civic Center.

The Demopolis Times and WAKA-CBS 8 will co-sponsor the mayoral forum one week after the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its forum Aug. 5 at the Civic Center. A story published last week in The Times erroneously gave Aug. 6 as the date for the Chamber’s forum.

The formats of the two debates will differ in order to give voters a different perspective of the mayoral candidates. The Chamber will give candidates five minutes to speak directly to the audience about their ideas for serving as mayor. Those speeches will be followed by three pre-determined questions that Allen Bishop, chairman of the Chamber board, will ask the candidates individually. While one candidate answers the questions, the other five will be out of the room.

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In the Chamber’s forum, city council candidates will be allowed three minutes to make speeches to the audience.

Because of the large field of candidates, The Times and WAKA have decided to keep the second forum focused on the mayoral race.

In order to do that, The Times and WAKA will give the six mayoral candidates two minutes each to give an opening statement.

Following those statements, McElvy and WAKA reporter Stephen McClamb will moderate a question-and-answer period. Candidates will be given 30 seconds to answer questions.

After a round of questions from the moderators, the audience will be allowed to ask questions in a controlled setting.

Beginning today, and leading up to the Aug. 12 debate, citizens can submit questions to The Times through mail, fax or e-mail. During the debate, moderators will select submitted questions and allow audience members to ask the candidates those questions directly.

Mitchell Congress, Mike Grayson, Stephen Gutshall, Ed Key, Ben Sherrod and Cecil Williamson all have qualified to replace Mayor Austin Caldwell.