Faith leaders organize candidates forum

Faith leaders organize candidates forum
May 10
09:12 2018

For decades the faith community has influenced political elections on the local and national levels. On Tuesday, May 1 First Baptist Church, on Highland Ave., in conjunction with the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV), the local NAACP chapter and Democracy North Carolina held a candidates forum for the community to hear their platforms.

First Baptist Senior Pastor Paul Robeson Ford stated that in years past, the church had held various forums but it has been around a decade or so since one has been held. He felt with the rich history First Baptist has with informing the voters it was time to bring the tradition back.

“When I first got to First Baptist, one of the things that was made very clear to me was how active the membership of this church was with voter engagement,” said Ford. “Given the critical importance of this year’s midterm elections I felt we should not miss this window and do something.”

Ford says he got together with the MCWSV, the NAACP and Democracy North Carolina and decided to put the event together. He was pleased with the turnout not only from the community but also with the candidates as well.

“I felt like most of the candidates were trying to be very authentic,” he said. “Obviously everyone was ready to give their speeches and that is par for the course and what’s most important is that people were trying to be transparent and faithful to the crowd that was there.”

The candidates were split into two separate panels. The first panel included the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, the N.C. House of Representatives, state Senate, county commissioner and city-county Board of Education.

The candidates included D.D. Adams and Jenny Marshall (US House of Rep.), Eric Henderson and Sen. Paul Lowe (State Senate), Evelyn Terry (NC House of Rep.), Tony Burton, Fleming El-Amin, Tonya McDaniel and Everette Witherspoon (county commissioner) and Alex Bohanon, Eunice Campbell, Barbara Hanes Burke, Chenita Barber Johnson and Malishai Woodbury (Board of Education).

The candidates were all allowed equal time to field questions from the moderator. Some used their time to answer the questions asked while others chose to do otherwise.

The second panel was dedicated to the candidates for sheriff and district attorney. Tim Wooten and Bobby Kimbrough participated in the sheriff debate and all candidates invited for the district attorney race were absent.

Ford wanted to stress that this was a nonpartisan forum. He says they reached out to all of the candidates on both sides who were registered so they can have a “fair hearing” with all of the other candidates. He stated he was disappointed incumbent U.S. Rep. Virgina Foxx decided not to attend after stating she planned to.

“There are certainly those who get comfortable in their incumbent positions and this is a year when I think people need to be careful being comfortable in those positions because this is a different kind of year than we have seen in a number of years,” Ford continued.“Voters need to know who considers them as an audience to be important enough to make the sacrifice to come out and engage them,” he went on to say.

Bishop Todd Fulton, social justice committee chairman for the MCWSV, served as moderator for the sheriff debate. He was thankful to First Baptist for stepping up to hold the forum as well as to the community for coming out to hear what the candidates had to say.

“I thought the forum was a success and I think both of the sheriff candidates were great and I feel both are qualified to be our sheriff,” said Fulton.

Fulton stated he wanted to bring the information to the people to keep them updated with the platforms of the candidates.

“If we are going to change our communities, we have to change our law makers and our politicians,” Fulton said. “With a president as an idiot, in this season it’s important as people of color that we show up and represent like never before because it’s a matter of life and death for our communities.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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