COVINGTON -- Several forums are planned in the coming weeks to help voters decide which candidates to choose in the July 20 primary election.
Due to the large number of candidates vying for local office -- a total of 17 -- the Newton County Voters League is hosting two separate forums.
From 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Newton County Historic Courthouse, Board of Education candidates in the race for Districts 1, 3 and 5 will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and state their platforms before being grilled by a panel. If there is time, the floor will be opened for questions from the audience.
A similar forum for candidates for Board of Commissioners Districts 2 and 4 will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. June 29 at the Historic Courthouse. Candidates for State House District 95 have also been invited to attend.
"During these times, it's important to come out and hear the candidates," Voters League President James Mullins said. "We're no longer in a situation where you just go to the polls unknowledgeable and vote just because of a name. You need to actually get a chance to talk to and hear the candidates and their responses to be able to hold them accountable once they're elected."
Smart Growth Newton County is hosting a forum as well at 7 p.m. June 28 at Washington Street Community Center, located at 4138 School St. S.W. in Covington.
County commission and Board of Education candidates have been invited to attend.
No question-and-answer session was planned at the Smart Growth forum due to the large number of candidates. Candidates will be given several minutes to introduce themselves. Depending on the turnout, candidates may field a few questions from the audience, Smart Growth President Jonathan Paschal said.
Light refreshments will be served and candidates are asked to stay to meet with those in attendance and answer any questions.
Smart Growth is sending several questions to each candidate, with the answers to be posted to the organization's website at www.smartgrowthnewtoncounty.com prior to the forum.
"We are pleased that so many of our citizens are willing to step forward to become public servants," Paschal said. "We want to provide an opportunity for them to meet with the public and express their views on issues that face Newton County both today and in the future. In these economic times, true leaders need to step forward to help direct the actions of our schools and local governments. We have heard from most of the candidates and the majority has indicated that they would attend our forum."