All four Republican candidates -- Joseph C. Byrd, Pat Marsh, Bobby Scott and Casey Walters -- and the lone independent candidate -- Chris Brown -- in the special election process for the 62nd District State House seat have committed to attend Bedford County Republican Women's "Meet The Candidates" forum 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Central High School auditorium.
The lone Democratic candidate, Ty Cobb II, has said he will be unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
The house seat, representing all of Bedford, part of Lincoln and a small part of Rutherford counties, is currently vacant due to the resignation of Curt Cobb, who was named Bedford County Clerk and Master. Early voting is now under way for the Democratic and Republican primaries, which will be held Aug. 27. Brown, presumptive Democratic nominee Cobb and the Republican nominee will face each other in the Oct. 13 general election.
The debate will be carried by radio stations and cable television systems in Shelbyville and Fayetteville. Dr. Carl Bailey will be the moderator and will ask questions provided by residents of the district. Each candidate will be given two minutes to respond and a 30-second rebuttal. The debate is expected to last about an hour and will be followed by a "meet and greet" session.
Transportation to SCHS will be available from the First Baptist Church parking lot on Depot Street at 5:30 p.m. Passengers will be brought back to the church following the event.
Bedford County administrator of elections Summer Leverette told Bedford County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night that early voting for the primaries has been "extremely slow," with only 230 votes cast between Aug. 7 and 11.
Leverette said the state is reimbursing Bedford County for the cost of the unplanned, and therefore unbudgeted, special election.
Walters, a car dealer from Fayetteville, has criticized Marsh for repeatedly voting in the Democratic primary. He made the accusation at a meeting of Lincoln County Republican Party.
"Mr. Walters' challenge raised the question of how effective Mr. Marsh could be in representing the Republican Party in the Tennessee House of Representatives," said a report of the meeting which was faxed by the Walters campaign to local media.
Marsh, a trucking company owner, told the Times-Gazette that since the Bedford County Democratic primary is often the only competitive election for county-wide offices, it's the only way a concerned citizen can have any say on which candidate is elected to local office. "It's the only way you vote," he said, "because that's what they all are."
In many years, the local Republican party has not even requested that a party primary be held for local offices.
Marsh said he stands by his decision to participate in the local party primaries.
"I'm not ashamed of it one little bit," he said. "I'm an American -- I want to vote."
He said that jobs, industry and roads should be the key issues in the election.