Mayoral and city council candidates in Loudon will have a chance to have their voices heard.
The Loudon Business Association, which has taken hold in the community as the Loudon Merchants and Property Owners Association’s presence dissolved, will host a candidate forum at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Loudon High School auditorium.
“As the Loudon Business Association, we are basically a service organization,” Wayne Flynn, LBA president, said. “We want to serve business throughout the town from one end to the other and support schools and things that are going on in town. So we’re here to support and we felt like this would be something good for the community to be able to meet the candidates and have a chance to have the candidates tell us a little bit about themselves.”
The idea came as a joint effort among several LBA board members who realized they knew very little about candidates running for office in November.
“There’s not backlash or anything in the way things have been done before, we just thought that it would be a really good thing for people to get to know their candidates and that’s basically what it is,” Shawna Green, LBA board member, said. “It’s a candidate forum. It’s basically meeting your candidate, kind of getting an idea of where they stand and what issues mean something to them. That’s basically what it is.”
The event will feature a moderator, a timekeeper and someone to introduce each candidate.
“The candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves, tell a little about themselves, and then there will be rounds of what we call Q and A, and those questions will be randomly drawn from a box by the moderator,” Green said. “The candidates will randomly draw what seats they actually sit in themselves. So I don’t know any other way it can be completely more fair than how we’re doing it.”
Questions have been collected from business owners and members of the community. Those attending the forum will also be able to submit questions at the door. Questions can also be emailed to loudontnba@ gmail.com.
“It’s not a debate, and we want to stress that,” Green said. “It has nothing to do with putting someone on the hot seat or not agreeing with someone’s issues. There’s not backlash that’s going to be allowed … between the candidates or the community that will be there. It’s basically just getting to know them.”
Questions will be reviewed to make sure there is nothing inappropriate or derogatory.
Flynn believes for many of the candidates, the forum will offer a chance to reach people in the community that might otherwise be unavailable.
“A lot of the candidates still have regular jobs, they work,” he said. “So they have not been able to get out as much as maybe they want to and meet the public. So this gives them an opportunity to voice some of their opinions.”
There is no ending time set for the forum. While question responses will be timed, LBA wants to assure each candidate is able to express the message they want to get across.
“The candidates are excited for the most part about it,” Green said. “They want to get out there and meet the people and say what they want to say, and it’s just been overall we’ve had nothing but really good response about it.”