Candidate turnout at forum was sad
Published 6:29 am Saturday, October 8, 2016
There is a lot that has been written about voter apathy. Often, American citizens are characterized as too lazy to participate in their civic processes, whether it’s elections, attending public meetings, or keeping up with events in their hometowns.
However, Tuesday night in Franklinton was an example of politician apathy.
The Franklinton Chamber of Commerce held a public forum for alderman candidates at the Washington Parish Courthouse, but just two of the 10 invited candidates showed up to the event. Incumbent alderman John Daniel and challenger Frankie Crosby attended, while the eight who did not were Doug Brown, Wayne Bryant, T.J. Butler, Patrice Crain, Cole Ladner, Florence Manning, Darwin Sharp and Heath Spears.
In November, the citizens of Franklinton will be asked to vote for five of these candidates to serve as members of the Board of Aldermen. Butler, Daniel and Spears are incumbents.
Certainly, I understand that everyone is entitled to miss an event every now and then. There are emergencies and extenuating circumstances that have caused all of us to be unable to fulfill an obligation. However, I find it very hard to believe that all eight absent candidates had a legitimate excuse to not attend Tuesday’s forum. It was announced more than a month ago — plenty of time to clear space on a calendar.
It should be noted that the organizers of the event even sent the questions to the candidates ahead of time. They knew what would be asked, and would have plenty of time before the forum to work on their responses. There was not going to be any “gotcha” moments by moderators springing unexpected questions or topics. At the very least, I would think that the candidates could have sent in their answers, even if they were unable to physically attend.
I felt bad for Franklinton Chamber Executive Director Linda Crain, moderator James Knight and the other organizers who volunteered their time and effort to Tuesday’s event. They didn’t have to hold this forum, but they knew that it was a great opportunity for the citizens of Franklinton to get a chance to meet the candidates. Thank you to John Daniel and Frankie Crosby for actually showing up and answering questions about the topics that are important to your constituents.
Politicians are quick to ask citizens to take the time to vote. But why should we expect the citizens to listen, when some of those same politicians don’t make the time to attend an event as important as a public forum?
Justin Schuver is the publisher and editor of The Daily News. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 985-732-2565, ext. 305.