Newton County voters will have the chance to ask the candidates for Sheriff their thoughts on the issues of the day in two upcoming forums.
All six candidates have agreed to participate in and help pay for a sheriff's candidate forum organized by Rich Simpson, host of the local cable show The Chat Room, and moderated by News columnist Nat Harwell. Free and open to the public, the forum will be held on June 18 at the Turner Lake Complex banquet room at 7 p.m. and taped with an audience to be aired on Charter Cable channel 20.
Seating will be first come first serve, with an estimated minimum of 100 people, said Simpson, though the room can hold a maximum of 250 seated.
Audience members will have a chance to submit their questions in writing before the show. Representatives from The News and other media outlets will also ask questions of the candidates.
Simpson, who is still looking for a sponsor for the forum, said he first got the idea from doing individual interviews with the candidates for his show, but was reluctant to moderate it himself.
"After 30 years of radio and eight years of doing the TV show, I still have this thing about getting up in front of people," Simpson said.
Harwell said he was pleased to be able to moderate.
"The more information you can have, disseminate and discuss to make an informed decision, that's the best thing," Harwell said.
Harwell said he faces the pleasant dilemma of having too many good choices.
"I'm very much interested because I've lived here for 31 years and I know most of these people. I feel so good about the field. I have no idea how I could possibly choose because I regard all of them so highly," he said.
Simpson readily admits it's the first time he's attempted to organize something like this.
"I didn't really think how much time it would take," he said. "I'm anxious about it, I'm nervous about it. I'll be happy if it's good and I'll be relieved when it's over."
Those words could probably describe the thoughts of the soon-to-be grandfather on the pending birth of his first grandchild, a girl, which in part is driving him to get everything done before late June.
To submit questions ahead of time, email Rich Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org or The News at email@example.com.
On June 16, there will be another forum held by the Voter's League of Newton County with candidates for sheriff, board of education district 2, BOC district 5 and tax commissioner. The forum, an open-floor style question and answer session, will be at 7 p.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse in Covington.
The league held an open-floor forum on Tuesday night for the candidates running for Board of Commissioners chairman, along with BOC districts 1, 2 and 3 as well.