The WBHF Political Forum will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at The Grand Theatre in Cartersville. Panelists from AM 1450 WBHF and The Daily Tribune News will question candidates in attendance, with Dana Fowle of Fox 5 Atlanta serving as moderator. The event is open to the public.
"It's an opportunity for folks to come on out and get informed," said Matt Santini, station manager for WBHF. "Certainly, we want to encourage people to vote, but we also want people that vote to be educated and have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates how they feel on the issues. We make it available as a community service, we make a collaborative effort with The Daily Tribune News, and it's one of those community services where everybody wins.
"We want the public to come out and see this event live, if at all possible," Santini added, noting that past events have drawn 250 to 300 audience members, from candidate supporters to those looking to determine whom they will vote for come election time.
For those who cannot come to the live event, the forum will be broadcast live on WBHF and will be re-broadcast by the station several times prior to the July 20 primary.
Santini said Fowle's involvement in Tuesday's forum is beneficial in several ways.
"We're looking forward to her ability to maybe pull in some of those other issues, and we're certainly going to give her free reign to chime in and ask questions, kind of give that investigative reporter slant to things -- if there's an answer that she wants to pursue or a line of questioning she wants to pursue, we'll allow her to do that along with the panelists," he said. "We've got a working relationship with WAGA, we carry their noon newscast, and so it's an opportunity to us to have an Atlanta personality running one of our events, but it's also an opportunity for them to brand themselves in our market as well."
As of Thursday afternoon, candidates confirmed for Tuesday's forum were:
* Pete Bridges and Bill Heath (incumbent), Republican candidates for State Senate District 31.
* Republican Barry Loudermilk for State Senate District 52. Santini said the station had received no response from Jeff Knight, Loudermilk's opponent in the primary.
* Greg Bowen, Christian Coomer and Shep Helton, all Republican candidates for State House District 14. Democrat Den Ledford is also slated to attend, but his opposition in the primary, Jessica Weaver-Stoll, is unable to attend, Santini said.
* For State House District 15, incumbent Paul Battles is set to participate, though Hayden Collins, his opponent in the Republican primary, is unable to attend.
A similar forum on July 6, also to be held in The Grand Theatre starting at 6 p.m., will focus on candidates for the three Bartow County School Board seats up for grabs this year. No Democrats qualified in the three races, and two Republicans are vying for each seat.
Santini said all six candidates have confirmed their attendance to next months forum. They are Post 1 candidates Lamar Grizzle (incumbent) and John Howard, Post 2's Roger Maier (incumbent) and Davis Nelson, and Post 3's Angie Cornett and David Palmer.