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Forum to offer closer look at town candidates

Candidates in the Town of Jonesborough Municipal Election will have their say during a public forum sponsored by the Herald & Tribune on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Visitors Center.
“We had several requests from our readers, and there is a lot of community interest in the race,” said Publisher Bill Cummings about the decision to hold a forum. “This will be an opportunity for the candidates to address the readers all at once as a group.”
Mayoral candidates Jerome Fitzgerald and Kelly Wolfe were invited to participate in the first round. Following opening remarks, each will be asked to answer three to five questions submitted by readers.
Candidates running for the two open alderman spots will be next. David Sell, Chuck Vest and Nansee Williams also will have the opportunity to make opening remarks and respond to questions from readers.
All questions must be submitted in advance, and none will be taken from the audience during the forum.
Judge John Kiener will serve as moderator and keep close tabs on the time limit allowed for responses and remarks.
Kiener moderated a similar event during the 2010 municipal election. “I thought the questions were well-directed at the candidates, which indicated a familiarity with the town,” he said.
He is hopeful a well-informed audience is in attendance for this week’s forum. “I also hope candidates will stick around after the formal program to answer any individual questions that may not have been addressed.”
According to Kiener, the benefits of live forums for the voters are two-fold. “If you attend in person, you get a good sense of how the candidates conduct themselves personally,” he said.
“You also usually find out details other than those included if you have been following the candidates through public information and media coverage.”
In addition, live forums serve as a check on how solid candidates feel about their participation and their platform, he noted.
“I don’t think they necessarily get you votes, but I do think you can lose votes if you don’t conduct yourself well or seem enthusiastic about your platform or holding office,” Kiener said.
Each candidate will have the opportunity to make closing remarks before the forum ends.
Early voting is under way through Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Jonesborough Courthouse, 100 E. Main St.; the Gray Commons, 106 Gray Commons Circle in Gray; and the Washington County-Johnson City Health Department, 219 Princeton Road in Johnson City.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Voters are reminded to bring photo identification.