City election candidates to speak at forum April 10

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 27, 2008

NATCHEZ — Aldermen and mayoral candidates will get to voice their platforms at the Natchez Political Candidates Forum, April 10 and the deadline for candidate participation is Friday.

The forum, which will take place at the Natchez Convention Center, is no new thing to the city of Natchez but has taken on a slightly new form.

This year there will be a moderator and three panelists to conduct the question portion.

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“We’re taking a cue from the CNN debates,” said Stephanie Hutchins, co-chair of the governmental committee of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce.

The hosts of the forum, the Chamber of Commerce, The Natchez Business and Civic League, The Natchez Democrat and First Natchez Radio Group, submit the questions that will be asked to each candidate.

The candidate will then have a certain amount of time, depending on how many candidates sign up, to answer the questions.

As of Wednesday afternoon, four candidates had signed up for the forum.

At 4 p.m., on the day of the forum, participating candidates are allowed to come to the convention center and set up campaign materials at tables around the room.

“That is a new twists so they can distribute their own campaign materials,” Hutchins said.

The public will be invited in at 5 p.m. and can walk around the room to pick up materials and to talk to the candidates.

Thirty minutes later the questioning will take place.

Hutchins said the forum is especially important this year.

“We felt that the upcoming elections are so crucial, we (are) trying to present an opportunity for our citizens to have a good platform to evaluate the candidates,” Hutchins said.

Debbie Hudson, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said that is the duty of all the hosts.

“We all have a commitment together to help everybody see what their choices are,” Hudson said.

Hutchins said especially with the issues the city is facing right now, from Rentech to Natchez Regional Medical Center, there is a lot to be discussed.

She said each year they have the forum there is always a good turnout, from both citizens and candidates.

“We’re always really pleased with these and that’s why we decided to do it bigger and better this time,” Hutchins said.

Hudson said she expects a good turnout.