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Residents invited to meet candidates at political forum

POSTED: October 4, 2013 12:50 a.m.

Gainesville voters looking to educate themselves on candidates running for city office will have the opportunity at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The Citizens Information & Advisory Roundtable, also known as the One Community Organization, is inviting all Gainesville residents to a community political forum at the Gainesville Civic Center.

“The big thing is that we expect everybody should come out and meet the candidates, ask questions if they’d like to, and to learn more about the candidates who have offered themselves for election to the Gainesville City Council and to the Gainesville City School Board,” said Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras, a co-organizer of the event.

Figueras’ Ward 3 seat is not part of this election. The other council and school board candidates are unopposed, but the mayoral race boasts a diversity of candidates.

And Gainesville voters who cast ballots in November will be the first to directly elect a mayor, who will serve with the council of five people representing five wards, for a total of six members.

Currently, one of the five members has served as mayor, with the position elected by the council and rotating every two years.

“We have contacted all of the candidates, and each one has said they will be there, except for (Ward 4 school board incumbent) Dr. (Delores) Diaz — she will be out of town. But the other ones will be there; everybody should be able to speak with them,” Figueras said.

Former Mayor Danny Dunagan, Debra Harkrider, Rose Johnson and Charles Alvarez are in the mayoral race.

Scheduled to attend, in addition to the mayoral candidates, are Ward 1 City Council candidate Sam Couvillon, Ward 4 City Council incumbent George Wangemann and Ward 1 school board candidate Brett Mercer. Those three and Diaz are running unopposed.

Figueras outlined how the forum will proceed.

“The candidates will introduce themselves, and we’ll have cards for people to ask questions, and we’ll just go from there and do the best we can so everybody can know who they’re voting for,” Figueras said.

Another goal is to educate voters on the voting process in general, she said.

“We’ll also give general information about voting so that everybody can know how exactly to vote in Gainesville, where to go vote in Gainesville, and what to expect — we’ll have a lot of information that deals with people voting,” she said.

The forum won’t be the last opportunity for the community to get to know candidates. The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials has announced an Oct. 30 candidate forum and will partner with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision 34 Atlanta for the evening session at a location to be announced.


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