A rose of appreciation to all who attended Thursday evening’s Candidate Forum in Columbus. The event, sponsored by The Dispatch, WCBI and Lyceum at Lee, was a success, largely due to the wonderful turnout. Approximately 140 people masked-up and watched as WCBI news anchor Aundrea Self moderated the event, which lasted a bit more than an hour. Hundreds more streamed the event on Facebook or wcbi.com. Viewers had a final opportunity to watch the forum on television yesterday. While the nine candidates who showed up provided insightful – and sometimes entertaining – answers, five of the 14 candidates in contested races did not attend. Three of those five are incumbents. Many of the ones who failed to show also declined to participate in The Dispatch’s voter guide. Perhaps it is a bit self-serving for us to criticize candidates for not participating in Dispatch-sponsored opportunities, but both the voter guide and the forum gave them a chance to reach a wide and diverse audience. We hope voters have had other opportunities to learn about these candidates.
Similarly, we want to give a rose to the organizers, candidates and attendees of West Point’s virtual candidate forum Thursday night. The event was hosted by the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance and Clay County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. All but four candidates participated in the event, and approximately 100 citizens tuned in via Zoom. As we’ve said many times before, citizens need every opportunity to “kick the tires” of candidates and to know who they are voting for. Though the event was virtual due to the pandemic, it provided citizens with the opportunity to better inform their voting decisions.
A rose of celebration for the drastically dwindled numbers of COVID cases and deaths in the Golden Triangle. On Friday, we reported only 28 new cases had been reported in Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties in the last week of March. No deaths had occurred in that time. Medical experts are cautioning us not to celebrate too much, though, as some parts of the country are seeing new spikes in cases, many of them driven by new variants of the vaccine. In fact, looking at statewide numbers, after a prolonged downward trend in cases and fatalities through March 31, both saw an uptick on April 1. Let’s continue to be cautious by observing CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing.