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Meet the city council candidates Tuesday
Public forum will be held in the Averitt Centers Emma Kelly Theater at 7:30 p.m.
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    Six Statesboro City Council candidates will face-off next Tuesday for a candidate forum at the Averitt Center for the Arts.
    Starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Emma Kelly Theater, the city council candidates forum will give Statesboro citizens a chance to meet the individuals running for office and offer up questions to the candidates. Lee Johnson, divisional vice-president for Northland cable organized the event, is excited about giving the public an opportunity to interact with potential future council members.
    “We used to do (a televised forum) years ago and it was very popular — people really liked it. We've had a lot of people ask about it and, of course, there's been a lot of interest in the city races this year,” Johnson said. “Hopefully a lot of people will be interested in it and watch it.”
    The mayoral race is all but decided with Mayor Pro-Tem and District 4 Councilman Joe Brannen running unopposed. He was the lone candidate after local businessman DeWayne Grice dropped out 30 minutes before the end of candidate qualifying.
    In District 1, incumbent councilman Tommy Blitch will be seeking his third term in office. He is being challenged by local salesperson William Thomas and Charter Conservatory for Arts and Technology teacher Benji Lewis.
    The District 4 race is wide open after Brannen decided to run for mayor. Vying for his seat are three newcomers: local business owner Lottie Johnson, retired Army Warrant Officer Fred Parrish and self-employed real estate appraiser John Riggs.
    So far, five of the six candidates have committed to appearing at the forum, though all are expected to attend.
Each candidate will be given the opportunity to deliver an opening and closing statement. In between, the moderator will ask questions based off of questions submitted by the audience on three-by-five cards before the forum. Questions can be addressed to individuals, all the candidates in a district or the entire table.
    Moderating the event is Doug Lambert, president of hotel management company Southeastern Hospitality Services and a former chair of the Statesboro/Bulloch Chamber of Commerce. Lambert has experience moderating debates and said he is looking forward to helping the public get to know all the candidates.
    “I'm excited. I think everybody benefits from it, particularly the voters, because they get a chance - if they can't meet (the candidates) or don't know them personally - get a change to take a look at them,” Lambert said. “It's good for the community and good for the election process. The more people who are involved, the better candidates we get and the better elected officials we have.”
    For those who can't make it out to the forum, Northland Cable will be broadcasting the event live on Channel 96 and will replay it after the forum periodically on the same channel. The forum will also be live streamed by the Statesboro Herald at and will be available afterwards “on-line and on-demand” also at
    Phil Boyum may be reached by (912) 489-9454.

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