County chambers schedule mayoral candidate forums
By JAN GRIFFEY/Editor
COLUMBIANA — Four Shelby County chambers of commerce — Greater Shelby, Calera, Montevallo and South Shelby — and the Shelby County Reporter have teamed up to host mayoral candidate forums in 10 municipalities.
Shelby County voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 28, to choose mayors and council members in their municipality.
The forums will include questions for mayoral candidates only, except in Calera and Chelsea, where city council candidates will answer questions at the end of the forum.
Dates, times and locations of the forums are as follow:
• Tuesday, Aug. 7, Helena at 6 p.m. at the Helena Middle School.
• Monday, Aug. 13, Columbiana at 6:30 p.m. at Shelby County High School.
• Tuesday, Aug. 14, Calera at 7 p.m. at the Calera High School.
• Tuesday, Aug. 14, Chelsea at 6:30 p.m. at Chelsea City Hall.
• Thursday, Aug. 16, Montevallo at 6:30 p.m. at the Montevallo City Park Recreation Building.
• Thursday, Aug. 16, Harpersville at 6:30 p.m. at the Harpersville Town Hall.
• Tuesday, Aug. 21, Wilsonville at 6:30 p.m. at the Wilsonville Town Hall.
• Tuesday, Aug. 21, Alabaster at 6 p.m. at the Thompson High School Auditorium.
• Thursday, Aug. 23, Vincent at 6:30 p.m. at Vincent High School.
• Thursday, Aug. 23, Pelham at 6 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex.
Stacy Walkup, executive director of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, said representatives of the chamber will introduce each event and candidate.
“We will invite each candidate to take three minutes to share their vision for their city or town,” Walkup said. Candidates will speak in alphabetical order.
Following that, the chamber representatives will ask each candidate eight questions.
“None of the candidates will receive the questions prior to the forum,” Walkup said. “And, each candidate will be asked the same questions. Those questions will be asked of candidates in rotating alphabetical order.”
Candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question. Then, each will have two minutes to provide a closing statement, she said.
No questions will be taken from audience members, Walkup said.
“This is not a debate format,” she said.
Kirk R. Mancer, president and CEO of the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce, said the chambers will develop the questions for candidates through discussions with their board members and chamber members.
“While there may be some subtle nuances in the forums based on the involvement of the different chambers, basically the premise of the forums is to allow business people and voters to find out about the respective candidates,” Mancer said. “Chambers are business-oriented, so we’re looking to get information from the executive branch of the various cities. We all came into this wanting to do a joint venture, though each community forum may operate a little differently.”
Mary Lou Williams, president of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce, said decisions about leaders in small towns are important ones, and the forums will provide voters with the ability to make informed decisions.
“Municipal elections in a small town really are important to the people who live there,” Williams said. “The leadership that the mayor, particularly, and the council offer to our city makes a difference to our future. I think having an opportunity for voters to see all four of the candidates in one place, responding to the same questions, gives voters a strong base for comparison and an opportunity to make a voting decision from a more informed perspective.”
She said in Montevallo, while council candidates will not participate in the forum, they are invited to attend.
“For council candidates, it will be an opportunity to introduce themselves and join in the conversation with folks in their neighborhoods,” Williams said.