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Smart Growths political forum Monday
Forum will be live streamed by The News
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Candidates attending

  • District 2 Board of Commissioners: Lanier Sims (D) (incumbent), Earnest Simmons (D) and Ricky Corley (R)
  • District 4 Board of Commissioners: J.C. Henderson (D) (incumbent), Sonya Hunte (D) and Jacquelyn Smith (D)
  • State House 110: Andy Welch (R) (incumbent), B. Kaye Shipley (D)
  • State House 112: Dave Belton (R), Aaron Brooks (R), Ester Fleming Jr. (R) and   B. P. “Patsy” Harris (D)
  • State House 113: Pam Dickerson (D) (incumbent) and Sharon Sawyer (D) 

Topics candidates were asked to be prepared to discuss

  1. *Alignment with the 2050 Plan
  2. Expansion of trails
  3. Transferable development rights (TDRs)
  4. Vision for Newton County/district you’d represent
  5. Initiatives for economic development
  6. Community revitalization programs 
  7. Community improvement districts (CIDs)-position on research and funding for corridor improvements to relieve traffic congestion

*2050 Plan will be primary topic

Early voting for the May 20 Primary begins Friday, and local group Smart Growth Newton County is giving residents a chance to hear from all the local and state candidates facing opposition this year.

Smart Growth’s political forum begins at 7 p.m., Monday at the Washington Street Community Center, 4138 School St., Covington, and candidates for county commission districts 2 and 4 and three state house districts have said they’re planning to attend.

The forum will begin with each candidate giving a two-minute introduction, according to forum organizer Stephanie Lindsey. Then, only the candidates who are facing opposition in the primary will be asked additional questions, Lindsey said (meaning Andy Welch, B. Kaye Shipley, B.P. "Patsy" Harris and and Ricky Corley will not participate in the question portion as they will only be opposed in the November General Election).

Below if the format for the question-and-answer session:
- Each state house and each Board of Commissioners candidate will be asked three question apiece
- Each candidate will be given two minutes to respond; canidates running for different house and commission seats may be asked different questions
- If there is a time, candidates will be given the opporunity to make closing statements

The candidates were not given specific questions ahead of time, but were asked to acquaint themselves with seven general topics, with Newton County’s 2050 Plan being the primary one, said Smart Growth President Jonathan Paschal. (See "Related Content" to the left of this story to see the topics.)

The 2050 Plan is a comprehensive plan that seeks to direct and shape growth and development in every area of Newton County to preserve some existing rural areas, create conservation areas, enhance existing cities and create town center-like areas in more densely-developed western Newton County that have high-quality design with mixed-use residential and commercial areas and are walkable. For more about the 2050 Plan go to

Smart Growth Newton County supports many of the tenants upon which the 2050 Plan is built, including “growth that is town-centered and pedestrian oriented, that mixes housing, commercial and retail uses, and that preserves open space and environmental amenities,” according to its website.

For people who can’t attend in person, the forum is being live streamed by The Covington News on at The forum will also be able to be viewed after the forum has ended at the same link.