The "Last Forum" which was conducted at the Marianna High School on Thursday, October 16 was considered by most attendees and participants to be the best of the four event series that has been conducted in the weeks preceding this election. This forum was conducted in more of a discussion format than the previous events, since after the primary election last month the original field was narrowed to only fourteen remaining local and state candidates. Royce Reagan was the Master of Ceremonies.
One of the most spirited portions of the evening’s agenda was the State Attorney portion which put incumbent Steve Meadows face to face with his contender, Judge Glenn Hess. The discussion-counter point- rebuttal format enabled both candidates to get in plenty of "licks" during their allotted time.
Sheriff McDaniel’s opposition, Brad Drake had a conflict, so Johnny Mac stood alone on the stage to provide his responses and opinions as issues were presented. Moderator Jerry Dorchuck presented the audience generated questions to the candidates.
Just before the intermission, which featured refreshments and snacks provided by the Republican Executive Committee, the candidates for Superintendent of Schools took the stage. Lee Miller and Steve Benton fielded several questions, some relating to budget tightening and teachers salaries.
The County Commission candidates took the stage in competing pairs, with Chad Fears and incumbent Chuck Lockey who are competing for the District 3 seat being first on that part of the program. Again, questions about how to proceed with budget cuts and restraints in a declining economy were key questions. Also, development of a road paving program for the county was a key issue.
For the District 5 seat, Ben Odom and Kenneth Stephens came into the spotlight. Stephens described his thirty eight years of business experience and his service on the Grand Ridge City Commission as components of his background that qualify him for the County Commission seat. Odom cited his business ownership experience, his educational preparation, and his awareness of potential sources of additional state funding for the county to use in paving as reasons the citizens of Jackson County should vote for him.
For the final time the candidates for Sheriff of Jackson County. There are four candidates remaining out of the original slate of eleven. William Nelson, Jim Peacock, Lou Roberts, and Zannie Williams took their positions on the stage and began to discuss the issues as presented by Moderator Dorchuck. Issues brought forth included how to attack the growing problems related to drugs and gangs, traffic enforcement, and improving the department in the face of budget cuts.
This series of four forums has been sponsored by Chipola Television CCTV 4, the local Democratic Executive Committee, the local Republican Executive Committee, and this paper, the Jackson County Times. We feel that these programs have given the public a good opportunity to meet and evaluate the slate of candidates, and have given the candidates a good opportunity to present themselves to the public. We appreciate everyone’s assistance and participation…..and now encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.