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Oct. 22 ‘Candidate Forum’ for Blowing Rock Council, Mayor Features New Format For Unique Responses

By Jesse Wood

Oct. 16, 2013. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce – in conjunction with the Chamber’s Leadership Challenge alumni – presents a candidate forum for those running for Blowing Rock Town Council and mayoral offices on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. The event is held at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium.

The forum will be split into two sections – Blowing Rock Town Council race and mayoral race, and every candidate will have a pre-filmed, 30-second video introduction shown at the event and an in-person closing statement. 

The forum featuring the mayoral race, which is a contest between long-time incumbent Mayor J.B. Lawrence and current Councilman Dan Phillips, will be debate style, while the council race section of the forum features a new format, according to Blowing Rock Chamber Executive Director Charles Hardin.

Those running for Blowing Rock Town Council include incumbents Doug Matheson and Tommy Klutz and challengers Laurin Carter, Sue Sweeting, Ray Pickett and David Barker.

Each council candidate will not hear each other’s answers under the new format. While one candidate answers questions, the other candidates will be in a “holding room,” Hardin said.

“Each one will stand on their own answers during the first part. They will come out and be asked a few questions and go back to the holding room where they don’t hear each other’s answers,” Hardin said. “We felt like in the past, candidates were levering off of each other’s answers. We want them to be their own unique person.”

Hardin added that this format isn’t intended to embarrass or expose the candidates, but “if they can’t articulate their point, maybe council isn’t where they should be.”

Hardin noted that the previous format, which is similar to the one the Boone Chamber of Commerce hosted earlier in October, had been held since 2007. After the last candidate forum, the Chamber received feedback from the audience, which noted that candidates talked too much during the introduction and candidates played off of each other’s answers frequently.

The candidates will have 90 seconds to answer each question.

Hardin noted that topics of questions will include the sales-tax distribution issue, U.S. 321 widening project, education, tourism, infrastructure, Middle Fork Greenway and seasonal and full-time residents. He added that candidates will be asked what civic issue or concern prompted them to run for office.

In the next part of the council forum, the candidates will hear questions from the audience – at which time the candidates will be able to hear each other’s answers. These questions from the audience will be screened by the Chamber to avoid redundancy and the like.

Finally, each candidate will have 60 seconds for a closing statement. 

For more information, contact the Chamber at 828-295-7851.