A media panel consisting of Kevin Karel from WBHF and Jessica Loeding of The Daily Tribune News provided questions for the event allowing audience members a chance to meet candidates and hear their unprompted answers.
Many of those in attendance were in support of specific candidates bearing stickers, shirts and campaign colors. Others however, were there to find answers to questions and see where each candidates stands because "they work for us," said Frank Cipolla of Cartersville.
"People need to get a good understanding of the character and intent of the people running for office," said Rob Adkerson, a Cartersville resident.
Beginning the evening of discussion was candidate for State Senate District 52, State Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville. Opposing candidate Jeff Knight was not present at Tuesday's forum leaving Loudermilk alone on stage.
Asked about his decision to leave the State Representative post he has held since 2004, Loudermilk said that he saw the need for a conservative voice to take the place for state senator representing District 52. He also cited his confidence in upcoming candidates to fill his vacant seat in the House of Representatives.
Taking a strong stance on immigration, he spoke to the impact of illegal immigrants on education and healthcare. Loudermilk applauded the efforts of the state of Arizona, adding that Georgia needs to follow suit. Adding to this message, he repeated a definition of justice as "equal application of the law to everyone." The current situation with illegal immigrants is not justice as he defines it, Loudermilk said.
State Senator Bill Heath, R-Bremen, took the stage next to answer questions from the media panel. Heath too was the lone candidate representing his race for District 31. Opponent Jeff Knight did not appear for the event.
Heath focused much of his time on the tax environment needed in Georgia to create and attract jobs.
"It's all about jobs," he said. "We've got to have the environment that is fertile for industry to grow."
Vying for House District 15, State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, and Hayden Collins squared off as the first opponents meeting face-to-face at Tuesday's forum. Battles campaigns on advocating for education and the results seen from his previous term. Collins runs on his various volunteer efforts, military experience and recent experience helping to promote state legislation as a concerned citizen.
After both candidates expounded on their advocacy for education, Battles and Collins admitted to being similar in beliefs and ideals followed by the only question in which they did differ.
When asked about their views on the Arizona laws effecting the enforcement of immigration laws, their views varied. Collins began by noting that two of his siblings have married legal immigrants from other countries and though he does want a legal process carried out he did not agree with the Arizona law.
"There's got to be a way these individuals can become citizens the right way," Collins said. "Isolationism didn't work after World War I and it didn't work in East and West Berlin."
Battles on the other hand agreed with the steps being taken in Arizona and said he would support such a law in Georgia. "It's a law that's being violated and any law that's being violated needs to be addressed," he said.
The crowded race for State House District 14 brought four candidates to the table Tuesday. From the Republican Party, Greg Bowen, Christian Coomer and Shep Helton were representing their campaigns, while Democratic candidate Dan Ledford was not joined by opponent Jessica Weaver-Stoll.
The four candidates present joined at one table to accept questions from the panel answering in turn the queries given them. Topics included those touched on by the candidates that came before them, including education, immigration and job creation among others.
The three republican candidates shared similar views on several subjects concentrating heavily on conservatism and common-sense practices. The lone Democratic candidate purposefully distanced himself from the others emphasizing his moderate stance.
AM 1450 WBHF will air the political forum in its entirety several more times before the July 20 primary. Tuesday, July 6, at 6 p.m., a second political forum will be held with candidates for Bartow County Board of Education.