Cartersville Tea Party hosts candidate forum
by Matt Shinall
Oct 04, 2010 | 2618 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tea Party drew a large crowd at their June meeting at Dellinger Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News file
The Tea Party drew a large crowd at their June meeting at Dellinger Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News file
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Gearing up for the November general election, a Cartersville Tea Party group has organized a political forum for the public to hear from candidates.

The same group headed up a similar Tea Party event in June prior to the primary. The Oct. 14 event, however, will be focused solely on candidates for the upcoming election. Organizers hope the event will encourage the public to cast educated votes in November.

"We believe it is important because it gives the people of our county and city an opportunity to meet their legislators and ask questions about issues that are on their mind and it encourages people. We believe that when people see information like this they're going to be reminded to vote and when they talk to people who attended a tea party we believe that will be a reminder and also an encouragement to vote," said Doug Cochran, Tea Party organizer.

Inviting all candidates with a direct influence in Bartow County, Cochran will give each candidate in attendance 20 minutes to speak with an opportunity for question and answers from the crowd to follow. Unlike the June event, this dedicated forerunner of the general elections will not contain guest speakers but artists performing patriotic songs will return.

"It's giving everybody an opportunity to get in front of the candidate, let the candidate know what he or she is interested in and there's a lot of different ways to communicate now with regular mail, phone and e-mail that we can communicate with our congressmen because they all have those facilities available to them. But there's nothing at all like looking them in the eye and saying, 'I'm going to be watching you and monitoring your voting record and if you don't do what you said you're going to do I'm going to let you know because I don't forget and I'll vote again next time,'" Cochran said.

Acting as master of ceremonies for the event, Michael Schwartz also commented on the importance of face-to-face communication.

"Really, body language may speak louder than anything and it gives candidates a more intimate contact with the voting public," Scwhartz said. "We just feel blessed to live in a country where we are able to hold an event like this."

Speaking to the national Tea Party, Cochran emphasized the grassroots nature of this movement and its inherent ability to involve a relatively large portion of the voting public in a time when turnout rates are consistently low. Voter turnout for the July primary was about 20 percent, surprisingly low for a gubernatorial race and several hotly contested local seats.

Eager for a larger turnout at the general election, this Cartersville Tea Party gathering hopes to attract as many attendees as the June forum, which drew an estimated 500 guests.

Commenting on the movement as a whole, Cochran was pleased to see how the previous local event reflected the mood of larger gatherings. He was particularly impressed with the variety of people on hand supporting a common concern for political leadership.

"You see people from blue jeans to white collar positions. It just gives anybody a chance to be involved and it encourages them to," Cochran said. "In the Tea Party everybody is equal and everybody is encouraged to spread the word about the election and about the people running."

With no formal hierarchy as in the established political parties, the Tea Party is formed around conservative ideals and the issues currently facing America. Harking back to the importance of public involvement in politics, Schwartz reiterated the mission of the local Tea Party events.

"It's to educate voters who are going to the polls to vote. It's really all about education and informing the public on a candidate's stance so that they may vote their conscience," Schwartz said.

The Cartersville Tea Party will hold the public forum on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Dellinger Park picnic shelters. For more information, call Cochran at 770-382-0684 or 770-655-3478.