There’s no reason to miss forums tonight, next week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2004

Staff editorial

Beginning tonight, and continuing next Thursday, Demopolis citizens will have an opportunity that many small towns don’t have. The Chamber of Commerce’s 2004 municipal forum is scheduled for tonight at 6:15 at the Civic Center, and it will be a shame if every seat in the auditorium isn’t filled.

In most small communities like ours, political campaigns and subsequent elections are decided by the names on the ballot. Candidates don’t spend millions of dollars on slick advertising campaigns that take pot-shots at the other candidates. Instead, those who seek elected office usually spend Saturdays going door-to-door. And rarely do our campaign seasons consist of a community-sponsored forum.

Tonight begins the first of two such forums, and voters owe it to the Chamber of Commerce and the candidates to hear what those seeking office have to say about city government.

The forum this evening will give voters a chance to hear candidates articulate their opinions on city government. The city council candidates will give a brief speech and make way for five of the six mayoral candidates.

Not only should we attend this forum to support the organizers, but we should feel a sense of duty to hear what our prospective leaders have to say.

After the Aug. 24 elections have come and gone, there’s a good chance most residents in this city will complain about one thing or another. Some will complain about pot holes in the road. Others will make a fuss about a worn-down building just across the street.

A forum like the one tonight, and again next Thursday at the civic center, offers citizens a chance to make an educated decision about which person will care for the needs of the entire city.

This year, more so than any in the past two decades, provides a challenge for the voters of Demopolis. With six candidates seeking the mayoral position, it’s likely that many who plan to cast ballots in three weeks don’t have a full grasp on which candidate will do the best job. In the world of national politics, we have a voter base that may be 50-percent undecided.

By attending tonight’s forum and the one next week, you may hear the right person say the right thing – easing the decision-making process. You also may discover that you have more questions you want answered before you cast a vote.

Whatever you gain from tonight’s debate will be more than you ever could learn by sitting at home. This forum is the culmination of hard work by the organizers. The hard work has been done on behalf of the voters. The civic center auditorium should be packed.