By Nathan Ham
Voters in Watauga County have a chance to hear what county commissioner candidates, sheriff candidates and other state and federal election hopefuls have to say about issues that affect their lives. The annual Watauga County Meet the Candidates Forum is set to take place on Tuesday, October 23 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. inside the large courtroom at the Watauga County Courthouse.
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce typically sponsors the event, but this year, the chamber is co-sponsoring this event with the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
“The Boone Chamber and Blowing Rock Chamber combined to co-host the event this year because the races have such a big county-wide impact,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “In this particular cycle with county commissioners, school board and the U.S. House race, it’s a much larger forum.”
The questions in this forum will give candidates the opportunity to share their platform and objectives for what they hope to accomplish if they are elected, in particular, what they will do to benefit the local business community.
“The chamber promotes a pro-business platform, no matter which side of the aisle that hits. We want to make sure our local candidates are aware and have a good pulse of issues that are important to business,” Jackson said. “We try to maintain great working relationships with candidates on both sides of the aisle and that’s very helpful when we have community-wide issues, we have people to go to, to bring our message from the business community. Events like this help our business community know where our candidates sit on issues that are important to them.”
Jackson said that the focus of this forum will be on the business climate in Watauga County and will include questions on tourism, town relationships and the costs of running a business in the High Country.
“It doesn’t matter to us whether an official is a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, we just encourage them to be supportive of our business community,” added Jackson.
Candidates running for US House of Representatives, State House & Senate, and Watauga County Commissioner, Board of Education, and Sheriff have been invited to participate. In addition, Court System candidates (Judges, DA, Clerk) and candidates for Watauga County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor will be given a chance to briefly introduce themselves to the audience.
The event is free and open to the public and parking is free downtown. If you cannot make it to the forum, the event will be simulcast live, in its entirety, on WATA (1450 AM / 96.5 FM).
The format for this forum will feature a “round robin” of questions and each candidate will answer the same question. Members of the audience in attendance will also be allowed to submit written questions during the forum. A moderator will be on hand to ask the questions and make sure each candidate does not go over their allotted time.
Each response will have a 1-minute time limit and each candidate will have a 2-minute closing statement. This forum is not intended to be a debate between candidates or between the audience and the candidates, but rather an opportunity for the citizenry to hear each candidate’s position on topics important to all.
Schedule of Candidates:
5:30 – Welcome & Introductions
5:35 – Candidates for US House of Representatives
6:20 – Introductions of Court System candidates (Judges, DA, Clerk)
6:40 – Candidates for Watauga County Commissioner
7:25 – Candidates for NC Senate, NC House of Representatives
8:10 – Introductions of Watauga Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor candidates
8:20 – Candidates for Watauga County Board of Education
9:05 – Candidates for Watauga County Sherriff
If you have any questions, please contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225