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Candidate debate set

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Voters will have a chance to get to know the candidates for the empty seat in the 62nd District state House of Representatives race on Aug. 18, when a debate is scheduled.

Bedford County Republican Women are sponsoring the debate to be held in the auditorium at Shelbyville Central High School starting at 6 p.m.

Invitations have gone out to the Democrat, Independent and four Republicans who are running in the special called Aug. 27 primary to fill the empty seat last held by Curt Cobb, who stepped down in late June to accept the position of Bedford County Clerk and Master, the court clerk for Chancery Court.

The only candidate in the Democratic primary is Cobb's brother, Ty Cobb of Shelbyville. The GOP challengers are Joseph Byrd of Unionville, Pat Marsh of Shelbyville, Bobby Scott of Shelbyville and Casey Walters of Fayetteville.

Chris Brown of Shelbyville has qualified for the general election as an independent.

The debate will be moderated by Dr. Carl Bailey.

"Not a one of them has dabbled his pink toes in the political waters," Bailey said, and while all of the candidates are well known to their neighbors, family and friends, he said it would be a good idea for the voters to know their views on the issues.

The debate is scheduled to last an hour, followed by 30 minutes for the candidates to mingle and meet the voters.

The event will be broadcast on WLIJ-AM, and they will also provide a live feed for Fayetteville listeners. The debate will be shown twice on Charter's cable access channel 6 and could be shown elsewhere in the state.

Bailey said the event will be conducted like a national debate with the mayors of Lincoln and Bedford counties asked to submit several questions they would like asked.

All questions for the candidates will be approved by the Republican Women, Bailey said. Candidates will have two minutes to respond, with each of the others getting 30 seconds for rebuttal.

Candidates will not know what the actual questions will be, but will be informed what the general area of questions will be, Bailey said, such as health care, education, the economy, transportation, budget management and related topics.

Early voting for the party primaries will be Friday through Aug. 22 at the county election office, which is located in the basement of the county courthouse. Hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. until noon.

Observers from both parties at the state level are thought to be watching the election closely since a Republican win could solidify the GOP caucus' thin 50-49 advantage in the House.

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