Grayson challenges Williamson to debate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – One mayoral candidate said she wouldn’t participate and the other is challenging her to a debate.

The Times is hosting a political forum at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Demopolis Civic Center as an opportunity for voters in the city to learn more about Cecil Williamson and Mike Grayson who will face each other in a run-off election Sept. 14 for the top city post.

District 2 council candidates Freddie Charleston and Charles E. Jones are also invited to attend, but Williamson said her campaign committee had already planned her time up to the runoff.

“My time would be better served knocking on doors,” she said. “I just don’t think it would be a good use of my time. I can cover more doors than you’ll have people at the forum.”

Grayson, however, differed: “I would like to challenge Cecil to a public debate so that thepeople will have the opportunity of comparing the candidates as to where we’re coming from and where we’re going in this city.”

“I agree that I’m knocking on doors as well, but I’ll take an evening off for this,” he said. “I love to exchange ideas and hear where other people are coming from and give the people a chance to see what they may be getting when they cast a vote a particular way.”

Times Publisher Jonathan McElvy said the event was designed to benefit the voters of the city.

“This is one way our newspaper can support the citizens of Demopolis. It’s an opportunity for them to learn more about each candidate and make a more informed decision about the future of our community,” he said.

Response from the newspaper’s first forum, co-hosted by WAKA, was positive, McElvy said.

“We had a number of people who called wanting to know if we would host another forum after the field of candidates had been narrowed. We are more than happy to do this for our readers and the entire community,” he said.

The forum’s format is familiar to the candidates. Each candidate will be provided an opening statement period, followed by questions posed from the audience.

Jones has already confirmed he’d attend the forum, although he is scheduled for a Birmingham doctor’s appointment earlier in the day.

Charleston was unavailable for comment for this story.