Candidates to meet in forums

Published 9:51 pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

Candidates for Suffolk City Council will appear in two public forums this week sponsored by local organizations.

The Suffolk-Nansemond chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold a forum Monday at 7 p.m. at Tabernacle Christian Church, 2500 E. Washington St. Candidates also will appear in a forum sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.

The forums are routine during election years for both organizations, their leaders said Friday. Both events are free and open to the public. No registration is required.

“If people really want to be informed when it comes to Election Day, how best to be informed than to get to know the candidates themselves,” said Charles S. Gates, president of the Suffolk NAACP chapter. “Voters should ask questions and see exactly what their platforms are.”

Eight candidates are vying for four seats on council. Three of the boroughs — Cypress, Holy Neck and Suffolk — feature an incumbent and challenger, while the Chuckatuck borough has two candidates vying for an open seat due to the incumbent’s retirement.

“It’s a way to allow the folks to be able to hear from the candidates firsthand,” said Dean McClain, director of the Suffolk division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “It’s sort of the Chamber’s policy to hold these forums.”

The NAACP-sponsored event will start off with prepared questions for each candidate but then take queries from index cards collected from audience members.

“We will gather those questions up and ask as many as we can within that hour and a half time frame,” Gates said.

The Chamber event will be moderated by John Stone, a retired Bon Secours executive.

“We try to keep the questions so they’re on the issues and not attacking,” McClain said.