State House Candidates Agree to Forum
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Don't call it a debate.
The three candidates gunning for the District 52 seat in the state House of Representatives have formally agreed to take part in a voters' forum in late October, sponsored by The Pilot and Muirfield Broadcasting.
The forum will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23, at Sandhills Community College.
Republican Joe Boylan, who defeated incumbent Richard Morgan in the GOP primary in May, and unaffiliated opponents Gerald Galloway and Manila "Bud" Shaver all agreed Monday to partake in the forum.
Students at SCC will ask the questions, with Steve Bouser, editor of The Pilot, serving as moderator. Tickets will soon be made available to the public.
The Pilot first floated the idea of what was then called a "debate" in an editorial. Bouser said the idea sprang from the fact that all three candidates were political newcomers who had never held public elective office.
Boylan defeated the powerful and entrenched Speaker Pro Tem Morgan in the Republican primary May 2. Since no Democrat filed, he seemed ready to coast into office. But Galloway and Shaver gathered enough signatures to file as independents shortly thereafter.
"Suddenly you had this unique situation where three relative unknowns are running for this important office," Bouser said. "We wanted to give the voters a chance to see them in action."
The original idea was to hold a debate at the Sunrise Theater on Broad Street. Bouser had lunch separately with the three candidates, and they all agreed in principle.
After several more discussions set up by Publisher David Woronoff, they agreed on the current format.
The Pilot felt that this would serve the public, Woronoff said.
"This is an opportunity for us to fulfill our mission and make sure the voting public makes an informed decision," he said.
Students Ask Questions
Students from the political science class taught by Dr. John Dempsey, president of the community college, will be asking the questions.
"The college is thrilled to be hosting this event," Dempsey said. "And I'm thrilled as a political science teacher that students get to be involved and communicate with the leaders of the community."
Muirfield Broadcasting will televise the forum. Owner Walker Morris said that he wanted to be a part of the forum because the General Assembly will be facing some significant issues in the coming year.
"I think this race is a very interesting one and a very important one," he said. "This is a chance for the public and the voters to hear more about the issues."
The candidates all expressed excitement at the opportunity to get their message out to the public.
Boylan, who owns hair salons in North Carolina, has the most political experience of the three, having already won a hard-fought election.
"This is a great opportunity for the voters to see what the issues are," Boylan said. "It gives voters a chance to compare and contrast the candidates."
Shaver, a Republican, said that he got into the race so that the voters who could not vote in the primary -- unaffiliateds and Democrats -- could have a say in the election.
"If I've done nothing else, I've created an opportunity for every voter to vote," he said. "I think that's marvelous. I hope they do it."
Shaver is a retired U.S. Army general and businessman. He said that he liked the forum idea because the focus will be on the issues rather than on "pointing out each other's faults."
Galloway, who recently retired as police chief for the town of Southern Pines, changed his affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated before entering the race. He said he was looking forward to the forum.
"I only regret that they didn't have more," he said.
Woronoff said that the event won't be exclusive to The Pilot and Muirfield Broadcasting. Other media are invited. The event will be promoted through advertisements in The Pilot.
"Our goal is altruistic in nature," Woronoff said. "We're happy to do it as a newspaper. It's a chance to serve Moore County."
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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