Two forums planned

Published 5:21 pm Saturday, October 8, 2016

Two forums this week will give Suffolk voters the chance to hear from candidates for four seats on City Council, including the mayor’s seat.

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce will host a forum Tuesday evening, while the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will have one Thursday evening.

Dean McClain, executive director for municipal affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, said all 13 candidates for City Council positions have been invited.


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Because of the high number of candidates, the forum will not include questions on specific issues, McClain said. Instead, each candidate will receive a set amount of time — depending on how many show up — to say why they are running and what they wish to achieve if they’re elected to City Council.

However, the forum will not be completely devoid of information on how the candidates feel about specific issues. Each candidate had the opportunity to fill out a questionnaire sent by the Chamber, and copies of all those returned will be available at the forum, McClain said. They also are available on the Chamber’s website,

Tuesday’s forum will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.

The NAACP forum on Thursday will feature a guest speaker in addition to the candidates.

Marvin Randolph, a national voter education consultant and past senior vice president for campaigns for the NAACP, will be the featured speaker. In addition, a panel discussion will take place regarding health care and Medicaid expansion.

The candidates’ forum will be the second panel of the night.

“Historically, our branch hosts and conducts candidates forums when there are elections for City Council,” Seneca Bock, who will moderate Thursday’s event, wrote in an email. “We believe it is vitally important for the NAACP membership, and the community at large, to be kept apprised of civic matters.”

Bock said every candidate accepted the invitation.

“We usually receive very positive feedback and attendance during our civic engagement activities,” she wrote. “We are pleased with the overall responses that we have gotten over the years.”

“We hope that during the candidates’ forum, people can learn key points about each candidates’ platform, enabling members of the community to make informed decisions when they vote,” Bock added. “Civic engagement and education are both hallmarks of a representative democracy. The NAACP stands ready to facilitate the maintenance of a free and open process toward civil and basic human rights.”

Thursday’s event will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Living Waters Christian Center, 1226 White Marsh Road.