More forums needed

Published 12:17 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Conservative Beaufort County Republican Men’s Club deserves plaudits for the candidates forum it sponsored Thursday night in Washington.

The forum featured six Washington City Council candidates in apparently frank, but civil, discussion of everything from rates charged by Washington Electric Utilities to regulations affecting businesses in downtown Washington.

Two council candidates, Gil Davis and Richard Brooks, didn’t attend the forum.

In attendance were candidates Rick Gagliano, William Pitt, Ed Moultrie, Bobby Roberson, Doug Mercer and Lloyd May.

All of the council candidates were invited.

A panel of local media representatives quizzed the office-seekers who showed up. The candidates’ responses left attendees with vivid impressions of how these men would vote if elected or re-elected.

Unfortunately, the forum wasn’t that well attended, with just 20 or so people — candidates excluded — on hand at the start. A few more people trickled in over the course of the evening.

“We were hoping for a bigger turnout,” said Hood Richardson, club president and a Beaufort County commissioner.

Local candidates forums normally don’t attract huge crowds, and organizers usually can expect to see a maximum of 50 to 60 people in the audience.

But Thursday’s event presented a first-rate opportunity for voters to learn more about the candidates and get a glimpse into how they would conduct themselves in office.

Chances like this don’t come around often enough.

With this in mind, we call on other civic and political organizations to consider sponsoring forums ahead of November’s elections.

We also call on every registered voter who can make it to attend these forums if they’re held.

The best way to make a responsible decision on Election Day is to know each man and woman who’s running and how he or she plans to vote on the issues that matter to people.

Best of all, a forum brings most, if not all, the candidates together in one room, which could help cut down on some of that pesky door-to-door campaigning.