Tired of all the big-money politicians trying to scare everyone to death? Maybe it's time for a dose of what real politics - on your street, in your community - is all about.
The Harlem Woman's Club, a venerable institution in Columbia County's oldest and smallest city, will provide just the right medicine Thursday night. The club is presenting an old-fashioned "Meet the Candidates" forum at 7 p.m. at its clubhouse on U.S. Highway 278. (Head west at the traffic light on Main Street; the clubhouse is about a block away on the right, and will undoubtedly be festooned with candidates' signs.)
"Each candidate will be allowed a five-minute presentation, and we will accept written questions from the audience for a short question-and-answer period," says Minette Hatcher, president of the club. "We will also have light refreshments afterward to give an informal time." The event will showcase candidates for Harlem's upcoming city elections. Mayor John Bentley is seeking re-election, challenged by former City Councilman Scott Dean. And two open Council seats are being sought by C.D. Morris, Rudolph Dixon and John Thigpen.
But the forum isn't limited to Harlem hopefuls. State Sen. Joey Brush also is expected, as is his opponent, Anna Hargis. And state House candidates Barry Fleming and Terry Holley also are to be on hand to address the audience.
There just isn't a lot of money in local politics - at least, not when compared to the big statewide races, with Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes sitting atop nearly $8 million after having already spent $10 million in a quest for re-election.
Local politics, however, are what affect us day to day. It's where potholes are fixed and roads are paved, where streets are kept safe and ball fields lit for night play. The big-money races for the governor's mansion or Congress may command our attention with high-dollar marketing, but it's the local races that demand our involvement.
In less than three weeks, it will be time for voters to try out the new touch-screen ballots for the first time. That will be a learning process for many at the polls. Don't wait until then to learn about the candidates, too; by then it will be too late.
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