The final public candidate forum before the May 5 primary election is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Columbus Municipal Complex.
A debate and two public forums were scheduled during the past two weeks in an attempt to “educate the citizens about the qualifications of each candidate seeking office,” according to Cindy Lawrence, president of the Columbus-Lowndes County League of Voters.
The League of Women Voters held the first forum April 20 at the Columbus Municipal Complex, followed April 23 by a debate sponsored by the Columbus-Lowndes Political Action Committee, also at the Columbus Municipal Complex.
Thirteen of the 15 candidates for city elections discussed their qualifications and stances on a variety of issues at the first candidate event, at which only about 30 residents were present. (The city boasts 18,497 registered voters.)
Ward 1 Democratic candidate Anthony Sanders did not attend the forum. Ward 4 Democratic incumbent Fred Stewart, who is running unopposed, attended but did not speak.
At the CLOPAC event, about 40 Columbus residents attended; 12 of the 15 candidates for city elections were at the event.
Stewart did not attend the debate.
Democratic Ward 2 candidates Joseph Mickens and Troy Miller also did not attend.
In the running
n In Ward 1, Sanders and Sam Davis qualified to seek the city council seat currently held by Gene Taylor.
n In Ward 2, Miller and Mickens qualified to seek the seat currently held by Republican Susan Mackay.
n In Ward 3, Republican Charles E. “Charlie” Box qualified to seek the seat currently held by Republican Gene Coleman.
n Ward 4 incumbent Stewart, a Democrat, is running unopposed.
n In Ward 5, Democrats Kabir Karriem and Kenneth McFarland qualified to seek the seat currently held by Republican Jay Jordan, who also serves as vice mayor.
n And in Ward 6, Republican Bill Gavin is seeking the seat currently held by Republican Jerry Kendall.
n Thom E. Geiger, an independent candidate, qualified to run for mayor opposite incumbent Mayor Robert Smith, a Democrat.
Tonight”s forum is sponsored by the Lowndes County branch of the NAACP.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.