WCU Public Policy Institute to co-sponsor judge’s forum Oct. 12, 14

Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and the Smoky Mountain News are sponsoring voter forums for the six candidates who are running for N.C. District Court judge.

The forums will be held from 6:30 until 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, and Thursday, Oct. 14.

The Oct. 12 forum will be held in the Multipurpose Room of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center in Cullowhee and the Oct. 14 forum will be held in the Haywood Community College auditorium.

“Judges make decisions every day that directly influence people’s lives, yet many voters don’t know where judicial candidates stand on the most important issues of the day,” said Chris Cooper, WCU associate professor of political science and public affairs, and director of the PPI.

“As part of the Public Policy Institute’s mission, we want to help voters learn what they need to know about the people who want to represent them in the judiciary. We’re excited to co-sponsor this forum and help raise the level of discourse in local politics,” Cooper said.

Both forums will begin with a reception from 6:30 to 7 p.m. where voters can talk informally with the judicial candidates and other local candidates who will be invited.

The formal portion of the forum will begin at 7 p.m., and local candidates who attend — county commission, school board, sheriff, and state representative or senate candidates — will be allowed two minutes to introduce themselves and discuss their platforms.

Todd Collins, WCU assistant professor of political science and public affairs, will serve as moderator, leading the forum with the judicial candidates. Questions will be developed prior to the forum, but audience participation will be allowed as time permits.

“This particular judicial race is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event for this region,” said Smoky Mountain News publisher Scott McLeod. “Three District Court judge seats being decided in one election is very unusual, and so we hope voters will take the opportunity to familiarize themselves with who is running and their backgrounds.”

The three races and invited candidates are: Seat 1 — Donna Forga and Danya Ledford Vanhook, Seat 2 — Kristina Earwood and David Sutton and Seat 3 — Steve Ellis and Roy Wijewickrama.