Bulletin to host candidate forum

Published 8:00 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

Commissioner, sheriff candidates to face off Wednesday

Clarification: Additional information on voter registration has been added.

COLUMBUS — Polk County voters will have a chance next week to hear local candidates give their opinions on issues.

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The Bulletin will host a candidate forum from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Polk County High School auditorium.

“Having a debate forum allows voters to see all the candidates in action,” said Tryon Daily Bulletin General Manager Kevin Powell. “They are able to put a face with a name, to hear them speak, to see how they handle themselves when they are put on the spot with a particular question. It allows voters to be better informed, so they can make a decision of who will lead and protect them.”

Wednesday’s forum will be moderated by former Bulletin columnist Michael Baughman.

Local races include three seats on the Polk County Board of Commissioners and the county sheriff. All candidates for the positions have been invited to attend, including write-in candidates.

Voters will choose three commissioners, from Democrats Carolyn Ashburn, Chrelle Booker and incumbent Ray Gasperson, and Republicans Paul Beiler and incumbent Tommy Melton. Write-in Republican candidate Mari Cartwright has also qualified.

For the sheriff, voters will choose one from Democrat B.J. Bayne and Republican Tim Wright. Democrat John D. Metcalf has also qualified to run as a write-in candidate for sheriff.

The candidates will be asked questions from the Bulletin, and will not see the questions beforehand.

The write-in candidates’ names will not be on the ballot, but there will be a write-in option on the ballot.

Polk County Board of Election Director Cliff Marr said to be a write-in candidate for a partisan contest, the requirement is for the candidate to get 100 signatures by Aug. 8. There was no filing fee for write-in candidates, he said.

Marr said the board of elections certified both Cartwright’s and Metcalf’s petitions prior to the Aug. 8 deadline.

Marr said what that means is that, in each contest, a write-in slot was added to the ballot.

“Only votes for the qualified candidates will count,” he said. “Any votes for nonqualified persons will not be counted.”

The voter does not have to spell the name correctly if the voter’s intent can be determined. The Polk County Board of Elections will make the final determination on the voter’s intent on write-in candidates.

The last day to register to vote is at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the board of elections office in Columbus, though people may register and vote on the same day during early voting.

This year’s election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6, with early voting beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and ending Saturday, Nov. 3. Early voting will only be done at the Polk County Board of Elections this year from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

There are no satellite early voting sites this year.