Only 1 candidate confirmed for next week’s CCF forum

Published 4:00 pm Friday, September 11, 2020

According to Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin, who’s working alongside Coalition of Concerned Families (CCF) President Jasmine Pritchett to host next weekend’s candidates forum, only mayoral candidate Miah Jackson has signed on to attend the debate slated for Sunday, Sept. 20, at 4 p.m. at A’s Occasions on Citizens Parkway.

The debate forum, which is meant to spotlight the candidates still in the running for Selma mayor and Selma City Council president, was hatched over the previous weekend and invitations went out to the four candidates the following day, Labor Day.

Selma City Council president contender Billy Young intimated that he was unavailable Sunday, while mayoral candidate James Perkins Jr. responded by saying that he is “considering the invitation.”

Selma City Council president candidate Lydia Chatmon has not yet responded to the request, according to Benjamin.

“The Coalition of Concerned Families has been around for a long time bringing community forums to citizens for the purpose of voter education on the candidates,” Pritchett said. “We heard the cry for a debate his year and decided to answer that call. As the courtesy of a reply should always be the standard with leaders, it is disappointing that only two of four candidates cared to respond.”

Organizers have a backup plan, however – if only one candidate shows up, time will be allotted for an “open conversation” in lieu of their opponent’s talking points.

“I thought ll four of these candidates would jump on tis opportunity to provide additional information in a different type of forum for our city,” Benjamin said.

While equipping voters with ample information is always a priority, Benjamin said the stakes in this year’s election are much higher and require a deeper dedication to educating voters.

“At this critical time and juncture we’re in, it is vitally important that the citizens are educated on the candidates who want the positions of mayor and president,” Benjamin said. “It’s vitally important that the candidates speak to the citizens.”

Further, Benjamin noted that the new administration – which will consist of a new mayor and a majority-new council –  will be faced with an array of pressing issues from day one.

“It’s so important, because the next team is going to inherit a pandemic, they’re going to inherit a ditch that was dug that did not have to be dug for them, they are inheriting the fact that there will be a new mayor and a virtually new council, they are inheriting that learning curve,” Benjamin said. “And so it’s critically important that the citizens are handed as much information as possible from these candidates.”

The forum is open to the public, but seating is limited due to social distancing guidelines still in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – masks will be required for all attendees, who will be provided with hand sanitizer upon entering.

Attendees are welcome to bring their own seating, as well.

The event is slated to be available online via Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube.

Benjamin and Pritchett are hopeful that the remaining candidates will sign on in the coming days.