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Candidate forums set for Grovetown and Harlem

Posted: October 20, 2013 - 12:05am

Harlem and Grovetown residents can meet and question candidates running for office in those cities at open forums this week.

The Columbia County Citizens for Good Govern­ment organized Meet the Candidate events for candidates seeking city council seats in the cities on the Nov. 5 ballot.

“It’s going to be really an open floor where the candidates will have a chance to discuss the topics they feel like they should bring up and why they should be elected,” said T.R. Brooks, first vice chair of the organization formed last year.

Grovetown residents can meet the candidates running to fill the seats currently occupied by Lee Briggs and Bruce Stoddard. Briggs was appointed in August to fill the unexpired term of former councilman Sonny McDowell. Incumbent Stoddard, who has served 12 years on the council, said he will not seek another term.

Three candidates qualified for the election – Briggs, 39, a John Deere operations manager; retired Columbia County teacher Sylvia Martin, 59; and hairdresser Vickie Cook, 43.

The forum will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Grovetown City Hall on Old Wrightsboro Road.

Harlem residents will get the opportunity to meet candidates in their city on Oct. 29 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Woodmen of the World building on West Milledgeville Road.

Four people qualified to seek the seats currently occupied by councilmen John Thigpen and Rudolph Dixon.

Thigpen, 53, is a chemical senior engineer at DSM Chemical in Augusta and has served on the council since 2003. He’s seeking a fourth term. Dixon, 88, a retired United Methodist minister, qualified to run for his seventh term since he began serving after his 1994 retirement.

Newcomers Dan Bellavance, 54, and Lee Ann Meyer, 40, qualified to challenge the incumbents. Bellavance is a backflow technician and works at Fort Gordon. Meyer is an owner of Red Oak Manor.

Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper will run unopposed for his third mayoral term. Culpepper, 66, was originally appointed in 2008 to fill the remainder of Scott Dean’s term. The former owner of Culpepper Ford in Thomson was elected to a three-year term in 2010.

Brooks said the forums will give candidates time to speak as well as a question and answer period.

“Right now, with so many people upset with the government, I feel like it is even more important than ever that you get a chance to meet (the candidates),” Brooks said.

The goal of the group, which is open to people of all political affiliations, is to create informed voters.

They work to promote better government, identify issues and inform the public, and to promote more awareness of government activities.

For more information, visit www.cccforgg.com.

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