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Republican candidates for county seats debate May 17
GOP ‘community day’ on May 19 includes gun training, food trucks
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Republicans running for the Hall County Board of Commissioners will have a final forum on May 17 in Gainesville before the May 22 primary.

The county forum has been set for 6 p.m. May 17 at 715 Queen City Parkway in Gainesville. It’s organized by the Hall County Republican Party, and candidates in primary races in Districts 1 and 3 have been invited.

Hall County GOP debate

When: 6 p.m. May 17

Where: 715 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

More info: msmithhallgop@gmail.com

In District 1, incumbent Kathy Cooper is running against challenger George Thorndyke. The winner of that race will go on to face Democrat Michael Parker, who is running unopposed in his primary, in the general election.

Thorndyke said on Wednesday that he intends to attend the debate, but Cooper will be traveling on a long-scheduled trip to celebrate her daughter’s graduation from the University of Georgia.

In District 3, incumbent Scott Gibbs is running against challenger Shelly Echols. There’s no Democrat or independent running in the District 1 race, meaning the primary will decide who next represents North Hall.

Both Gibbs and Echols confirmed to The Times that they’re participating in the debate.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the forum will last an hour beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The forum was announced on Wednesday, May 9. It will be moderated by former county commissioner Craig Lutz and Hall County GOP Chairman Matt Smith.

Questions about the debate or for the candidates can be sent to msmithhallgop@gmail.com. Questions may also be submitted the night of the debate, Smith said on Wednesday.

Voters and the general public will get another chance to talk with local candidates and elected officials on May 19, when the Hall County GOP has organized a community day at 332 Washington St., the Homestar Financial building.

Smith said the event will include space for elected officials and candidates from local and state government to talk with the public.

The community day also features the Hall County Sheriff’s Office offering gun safety and concealed carry training for the public, food trucks and a play area for children.

While the Sheriff’s Office is participating in the event, the office is “absolutely not putting on this event,” Smith told The Times. The county GOP is the sponsoring group.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said deputies will give away gun locks for home safety and register booklets for personal weapon inventories. They’ll also offer information on gun handling, safe storage at home and in vehicles, general tips for responsible gun ownership and information on where and how to apply for a concealed carry license.

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