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Local political forum scheduled for Oct. 5

In a presidential election year that promises to break longtime records for voter turnout, local and district races are sparking political fires of their own.  

The Southern Standard-WCPI media partnership returns this fall, inviting candidates to make their case to the citizens in two forums on consecutive Monday evenings early next month.

Candidates in contested races for Tennessee’s Fourth District Congressional seat will be welcomed to speak to the voters in the first of the pair of sessions Oct. 5 starting at 6:00 pm in Warren County High School’s auditorium.  Other matchups that evening will feature the 16th District Tennessee Senate and 43rd District House of Representatives races.   

Actively contested races for the McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be in the spotlight October 12, also at 6:00 pm at the high school.   Event organizers are holding out the possibility that candidates for town council races in Viola and Morrison may be included, but a decision on that question will be announced later.  

“Our media collaboration with WCPI over the past several election cycles has proven to be an advantage to the community in terms of voter education and awareness of the issues,” said Southern Standard publisher Patricia Zechman. 

“These forums also serve to support democracy at the local level as they offer all officially qualified candidates to present themselves to the voters and argue why they deserve to be elected,” Zechman continued.   “And participation is entirely free of cost and each candidate is given an equal opportunity to address the voters.”

In the McMinnville municipal contest, three candidates are vying to become the next mayor, while eight hopefuls are competing for three aldermanic seats.  In Viola, three hope to win the mayor’s mantle, while five are running for aldermanic slots.   

The October 12 forum will also invite the two candidates seeking to fill an unexpired term as 5th District Warren County commissioner.

In the October 5 session, incumbent Republican US Representative Scott DesJarlais will be invited to debate his Democrat challenger, Christopher Hale of Murfreesboro.   The 16th District Tennessee Senate race pits McMinnville attorney and first-time candidate Sheila Younglove, the Democrat nominee, against incumbent Republican Janice Bowling of Tullahoma.   In the 43rd District state House race, Republican incumbent Paul Sherrell faces a challenge from political newcomer Luke Cameron running as an Independent.  

“An informed electorate is the foundation of a healthy, robust democracy and an accountable government that really serves its citizens,” observed Dr Norman Rone, president of the non-profit Warren County Education Foundation, owner and operator of public radio 91.3 WCPI.

“We are happy to be working with the Southern Standard, one of the most honored and respected community newspapers in the South, in organizing and presenting these candidate forums,” he added.

Traditionally staged at the Warren County Administration Building on Locust Street, this year’s Covid-aware program will be held at the high school auditorium to allow for proper physical distancing.   Even so, the in-house audience will be limited to the first 50 spectators who show up when the doors open at 5:30 each evening.