Tonight at 6:30 p.m., The Commercial Dispatch and WCBI will host a candidate forum for Columbus municipal candidates in contested races at the Lyceum at Lee, which is the new event space in the former Lee High School auditorium.
The event will have a live audience and will also be livestreamed online at wcbi.com. For those of you who can’t tune in to the live event, WCBI will also air the event on MyMS Saturday at 11 a.m.
Originally scheduled for last week, the forum was postponed to today due to the threat of severe weather.
The forum will give the public an opportunity to hear their candidates make opening and closing remarks, as well as answer a series of questions from the moderator. The candidates know the questions will generally be about the city’s needs and about their vision for the city, but they don’t know the exact questions. Seeing candidates answer questions off-the-cuff is good because it gives voters an idea of how prepared and informed their candidates are.
As of press time, nine candidates were confirmed as attending. For city council: Kallie Phillips, Rusty Greene, Sally Brown Tate, Pat Fisher Douglas, Marty Turner, Jacqueline DeCicco, Bill Gavin; for mayor: Montrell Coburn and Keith Gaskin. One candidate — Pierre Beard — confirmed for the original date of the forum, but scheduling conflicts kept him from confirming for the rescheduled event. As of press time, Beard was still trying to rearrange his schedule to attend, so there is a chance he could be there. Ethel Taylor Stewart sent regrets that she could not attend, but despite texts, calls, Facebook messages and emails, no response was received from Ward 1 candidate Tommy Jackson or Ward 3 candidate Kori Bridges.
Incumbent mayor Robert Smith Sr. released a public statement last week that he would not be able to attend the originally scheduled date of the forum due to ongoing health concerns. We reached out to him once the event was rescheduled to make sure he knew he was still welcome to attend, but we received no response. The mayor and his campaign have been largely absent from public view since late February when he was briefly hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition.
Due to COVID precautions, seating at the venue is limited. As of press time this morning, a handful of tickets were still available. If you are interested in attending, reserve your free tickets at cdispatch.com/forum.
Some races will be decided at the April 6 primary, which is next week. We encourage the public to tune in to the forum to help inform their voting decisions. Like all elections, this one is important, and it’s crucial to learn as much as you can about the candidates.
HOW TO WATCH
- WHAT: Columbus candidate forum
- WHEN: Tonight at 6:30 p.m.
- WHERE: Lyceum at Lee (former Lee High School auditorium) — tickets required
- HOW: Online at wcbi.com or in person by reserving free tickets at cdispatch.com/forum; event will be broadcast on MyMS Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.