Women Voters plan candidate forum Tuesday

CONYERS - The Rockdale-Newton League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum Tuesday to help residents learn more about the contested races in the Nov. 4 General Election.

Candidates who are running for offices representing locally as well as state house and senate seats were invited to the forum.

The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Rockdale Auditorium, located in Olde Town Conyers at 903 N. Main St. Following introductions and explanation of the forum rules, each race is to be highlighted in 15 minutes blocks. Diane Shockley of the local LWV chapter said the forum is timed to allow people to come and go for races they are particularly interested in.

Incumbent Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, will join his Democratic opponent Rudy Cox of McDonough first at 6:55 p.m. followed by Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia, who is running against Republican Willie Hinton, also of Lithonia.

Democrat Toney Collins of Conyers and Republican Erick Hunt of Snellville will appear before the county races at 7:15 p.m.

Collins and Hunt are seeking to replace Rep. Robert Mumford, R-Conyers, who is not seeking re-election after two terms.

Candidates running for local office are scheduled to appear at 7:30 p.m. beginning with Rockdale County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Middlebrooks and his Democratic challenger Richard Oden.

The BOC Post 1 race candidates, incumbent Jason Hill and Democratic challenge Oz Nesbitt, will go on stage at 7:45 p.m. They will be followed by Democrat Ruth Wilson and Republican Sharon Barksdale, who are running for County Clerk of Courts.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington and Democrat Donald Ferguson will appear at the forum at 8:15 p.m. The portion for school board candidates will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Each candidate is allowed a one-minute opening comment, followed by a questioning period that gives candidates two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have two minutes for closing comments, said Shockey.

The forum will be similar to the one held before the primary election in July where the LWV will have prepared some questions and others will be solicited from the public on index cards.

The forum takes place four weeks before the General Election, but this year a record number of residents have already voted thanks to changes in the laws governing absentee ballots.

The Rockdale-Newton League of Women Voters was formed in 1982 to provide nonpartisan information on candidates and election issues. The league was renamed in 2004 to recognize the number of Newton County residents active with league functions and recognized shared issues of both counties.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com