Forum organized for race for mayor


With a highly contested race for nominations for Seymour mayor set, three organizations have joined together to provide the public an opportunity to hear from the eight candidates.

The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson County United Way and The Tribune have organized the 2019 Mayor’s Forum to be held March 30 at Celebrations at 357 Tanger Blvd., Seymour.

The three Democrats on the ballot and the five Republican candidates have agreed to answer six questions from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. that day.

The forum is neutral and open to the public.

The questions — formulated by a committee — will be given to candidates in advance, and each candidate will get two minutes to answer.

Topics includes workforce development, taxes, public transportation, youth issues, health and Latino issues.

The candidates are Tyler Henkle, Jim “Mike” Kelly and Rexanne Ude on the Democratic ticket, while the Republican ticket features Bridey Jacobi, Thomas Joray, Matthew Nicholson, Nathan Otte and Matthew Rowe.

Tricia Bechman, president of the chamber, said the organization wants to start offering programs associated with public affairs and the forum came at the right time.

The chamber conducted a legislative preview last month ahead of the start of the 2019 state legislative session.

“We want to provide a platform for people to get educated with the candidates so they can make the best educated decision when they go to vote,” she said. “We will not be endorsing candidates, but we will provide everyone with information and the opportunity to educate themselves.”

Bechman said the race also will determine the next leader during a time of transition. Mayor Craig Luedeman announced last year he would not seek a fourth term.

This is the first time the office has been contested since Luedeman defeated former Mayor John Burkhart, a Democrat, in 2007. Luedeman was unopposed in 2011 and 2015.

“We’ve had Mayor Craig Luedeman for 12 years, so it’s a big change when someone comes into office, so this gives someone the opportunity to fill his shoes and make changes the way they want to get things done,” she said. “I think people need to be informed about their options because things will change.”

Tribune Publisher Bud Hunt said elections don’t get any more local than the one in May and later in November.

He said the community looks to its own to see who its new leader will be.

“While we know many of these individuals who are offering their time and talents to public service as friends and neighbors, we’re asking them to take on a big role,” Hunt said. “We are proud to be a part of helping facilitate that dialog and community discourse.”

Tonja Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way, said her organization wanted to give the community a chance to become familiar with those who are seeking public office.

“We want the opportunity for community residents to understand who their leadership could be and what their priorities would be in the midst of the election process,” she said.

Couch said Jackson County United Way has a lot of information from the community conversations the organization conducted between 2016 and 2018.

She said feedback from those conversations showed more people wanted to be connected with local government and leadership.

“We hope all residents will come and listen,” Couch said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Mayor candidates forum

When: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. March 30

Where: Celebrations event center, 357 Tanger Blvd. Suite 101, Seymour

The event is open to the public.


No posts to display