Candidate forum Thursday will feature statewide and Adams County candidates on Nov. 7 general election ballot

Published 1:59 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

NATCHEZ — A candidate forum is set for Thursday night at Natchez Middle School for those seeking office in the Nov. 7 general election.

The Natchez-Adams Branch of the NAACP is sponsoring the forum at the school, which is located across the highway from Walmart at 319 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive. It begins at 6 p.m. and will be in the school’s auditorium.

All statewide candidates and Adams County candidates who have opposition have been invited to the forum.

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Statewide candidates who have indicated they will attend include Gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley; Greta Martin, candidate for attorney general; Robert Bradford, candidate for agriculture commissioner; Ty Pinkins, candidate for secretary of state; Larry Bradford, candidate for state auditor; Kelvin Butler, Gary Brumfield and Trischell Veal, all candidates for District 38 Senate seat; and Benton Thompson, candidate for House District 97 representative.

Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, president of the Natchez-Adams Branch of the NAACP, said the group is non-partisan and that the event is an informational forum. It is not a debate. Candidates have been asked to refrain from verbal attacks, and rules include no booing, cheering or clapping during the presentation.

Candidates will be allowed two minutes to introduce themselves and give any brief comments about the position they seek. Following the introduction, candidates will be asked two questions and will have one additional minute to summarize their remarks.

“We have enlarged this forum to include more statewide candidates,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

She said the candidates for the area’s state house and senate seats were added in the forum during the primary election in August and that the remaining candidates for statewide election have been added to Thursday’s forum. She said that decision was made when a number of the statewide candidates reached out asking to be included in the Natchez-Adams County NAACP forum.

“We have people reach out from all over the state, so we decided to include them this time. We have made every effort to reach out to every candidate running for statewide office. Five of them have let us know they are coming,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “We can’t make you come, but we certainly want all of them to know that we want them there. We do not endorse any candidate or any party. We are non-partisan.”

The most important thing is to get out the vote, she said.

“It is important to vote. Our voter turnout has not been good,” she said. The Natchez-Adams NAACP members are volunteering to make phone calls to urge local voters to go to the polls.

“We are keeping those calls to 24 seconds,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “We simply ask if they are going to vote. We ask them to please go to the polls. We don’t endorse any candidate. We just want people to get out and vote. And we tell them to take their family.”

Contested local races in the general election who have been invited to the forum include:

  • Sixth District Attorney Shameca S. Collins, Democrat, versus challenger Tim Cotton, independent.
  • Adams County Circuit Clerk Eva “E.J.” Givens, Democrat, versus challenger Daye, Dearing, independent.
  • Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten versus challenger Curtis Ray Davis, independent.
  • District 2 Supervisor Kevin Lee Wilson, Republican, versus challenger Francis J. Ransom Jr., independent.
  • District 4 Supervisor James “Ricky” Gray, Democrat, versus challenger Jacquetta McCranie, independent.
  • Justice Court Judge Southern District candidates Danny Barber, Democrat, Jack Blaney, Republican, Timothy David Blalock, independent, and Mary Francis Willard, independent.