Washington Candidate Forum 2023

Published on 30 September 2023 at 10:36



Washington’s voters got a first look Thursday evening at many of the candidates competing for seats on City Council or in the Mayor’s office.


            Sponsored by the Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, Relyant Communications, and the Court Street Livery, most of the candidates appeared at a forum  to introduce themselves to the city’s electorate.


            While Council District One has four candidates seeking one seat, only Delilah Wilburn and John Wylie represented the D-1 slate; Devito Owens and incumbent Maceo Mahoney were no-shows.


            Three of the four District Two candidates looking to fill two seats, being vacated by Charles Wagner and Matthew Denard, were on the dais: Kimberly Cork, David Fisher, and Newt Gunter. Juan Jackson, unable to attend because of a prior commitment, was represented by Rev. Lance Pitts, who read a statement on Jackson’s behalf.


            Former council member and one-time mayoral candidate Rev. Larry Hill was joined by Brent Bailey in the special election race for Hill’s unexpired D-1 term (Hill withdrew from the mayoral race September 7 in order to qualify for his vacated seat). Bailey was previously a candidate in the regular D-1 race, but withdrew and qualified a slot in the special election. Candidate Trondondric Anderson was absent from the forum.


            All three mayoral candidates — Bruce Bailey, Angela Booker, and Ken Parris — appeared and made their pitches to the audience.

            While it was standing room only at the Livery, the audience was well-mannered, occasionally applauding the candidates. However, the crowd — mostly caucasian — did not nearly reflect the predominantly African American racial makeup of the city.


            The candidates were given two minutes for opening statements, two minutes to respond to a prepared question about their priorities for the city, and a final two-minute closing statement. In contrast to the GOP presidential debate earlier in the week, there was no stringent crosstalk, finger-pointing or challenges among opponents, and no questions from the audience. Candidates were provided spaces outside the building where they later could interact with voters.


            You can watch a video of the entire forum on the Washington-Wilkes Informer YouTube Channel , as well as individual interviews with two mayoral and one council candidates: Angela Booker, Kimberly Cork, and Ken Parris (the Informer invited each of the fourteen candidates to interview, but only three responded.)


Reported by Richard Crabbe



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