Have coffee, politics

Published 12:02 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

NATCHEZ — Natchez Coffee Company is expanding its menu, at least for a few days.

In addition to coffee and pastries, the downtown shop will be offering two question-and-answer sessions with the candidates for the legislature.

Senate District 37 candidates Bob Dearing and Melanie Sojourner will be available for questions from 8-9 a.m. Friday at the coffee shop, located at 509 Franklin St., said Stephanie Hutchins, chairman of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee.

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Hutchins said she hasn’t confirmed attendance with District 37 Candidate Stephen Oglesby yet, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be participating in the forum.

The Chamber of Commerce wants to facilitate discussion in the community through the forums, she said. But in the midst of elections, Hutchins said, the chamber committee decided to go ahead and use the space and time to aid with sharing information about the political races.

“We want to sit down and talk, as opposed to having the race platform and elaborate questioning,” she said. “And for people who are not able to come to things in the afternoon, we can get some of our old regulars and possibly some new ones in the morning.

“It’s like a big coffee club.”

Hutchins said she’d probably be the person guiding the discussion, but hopefully it can just be a very informal meeting where people just sit and talk.

“If it needs some guidance, I’ll step in,” she said. “But after some brief introductions, I’ll let the people ask their questions and the candidates reply.”

Essentially, the meeting will consist of people raising their hands and asking questions, Hutchins said.

“With Sen. Dearing, for example, if (people) have any issues with any votes he’s made or stances he’s taken or things he’s produced for the area, it’s a good time to discuss it,” she said.

Hutchins said she’s expecting 30-40 people, and the forum is free to attend.

Another forum, featuring District 94 candidates James “Rickey” Gray and Robert Johnson, will be set up in the same manner and will take place from 8-9 a.m. July 29 at the coffee shop.