VALDOSTA — The Valdosta branch of the American Association of University Women will host a moderated candidate forum 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at Valdosta State University’s Powell Hall Auditorium. 

The event is open to the public and designed to encourage voters to learn more about the candidates and their views on various community issues, according to the association. Candidates are running in the municipal races scheduled for November.

Dr. James LaPlant will serve as moderator throughout the evening. He is dean of the graduate school and a professor in the Department of Political Science, both at VSU.

Candidates from contested races will have an opportunity to appear on stage with their opponents, make a two-minute opening statement, respond to questions posed by voters in attendance and offer a one-minute closing statement.

Candidates whose opponents are not present at the forum, as well as candidates who are running unopposed, will be able to make a statement and answer questions within time limits. 

The Valdosta branch of the AAUW has invited the following candidates to participate in the forum:

• Valdosta City Council District 2: Vernotis Williams and Sandra J. Tooley.

• Valdosta City Council District 4: Eric G. Howard, Kevin J. Bussey, and Angela Penn.

• Valdosta City Council District 6: Andy Gibbs, Felix P. Vayner, and Ron Borders.

• Hahira Mayor: Bruce Cain.

• Hahira City Council District 1: Terry C. Benjamin.

• Hahira City Council District 4: H. Mason Barfield.

• Dasher Mayor: G.R. Holton.

• Dasher City Council Post 1: Chris Webb, Jeff Guilliams, and Mike Hamm.

• Dasher City Council Post 2: Donald J. Bryan.

• Lake Park City Council: Sharon Tracy Fountain, Jena C. Sandlin, Carl Taylor, and Thomas D. Barr.

• Remerton City Council: Brandy Barnes, Jasen L. Tatum, and Jessica R. Pope.

• Valdosta Board of Education District 4: Tyra Howard.

• Valdosta Board of Education District 5: Trey Sherwood.

• Valdosta Board of Education District 6: Tad Moseley.

The AAUW’s political forums were initiated by Dr. Jo Ann Hartman, an educator and association member who served on the Valdosta City Council from 1980 to 1984. 

The forums are dedicated in memory of Virginia Branan, a VSU alumna and educator who worked with Hartman and the AAUW to make the events both successful and a valued part of the association’s service to the South Georgia region.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. The last day to register to vote in the upcoming general election is Tuesday, Oct. 10. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 16. 

Powell Hall is located on the Georgia Avenue side of VSU’s Main Campus. Parking is available in the Conference Lot and neighboring gravel lots across the street from the building. Volunteers will be outside to help guide attendees.

Dr. Beverly Richardson Blake, senior academic adviser with VSU’s Centralized Advising Center, is president of the Valdosta branch of the AAUW. She may be reached at for more information.

Dr. Diane Holliman, a faculty member in VSU’s Department of Social Work, is co-chairwoman of the Valdosta branch of the AAUW’s Candidate Forum Committee. She may be reached at for more information. Dr. Christine A. James, a faculty member is VSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, is co-chairwoman of the Valdosta branch of the AAUW’s Candidate Forum Committee. She may be reached at for more information. 

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