published Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Candidate forum aims to engage black voters


The Voter Empowerment Team political forum is scheduled at Olivet Baptist Church, 740 E. M.L. King Blvd., from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27.


Candidates who have confirmed they will attend:

• State Rep. JoAnne Favors, Democrat, House District 28

• Johnny Horne, Republican, House District 28

• Todd Gardenhire, Republican, Senate District 10

• Andraé McGary, Democrat, Senate District 10

• Dr. Mary Headrick, Democrat, 3rd Congressional District

Candidates who have not confirmed:

• U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Republican, 3rd Congressional District

• Mark Clayton, Democrat, U.S. Senate

• U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, Republican, U.S. Senate

Source: Voter Empowerment Team

A candidate forum set for Sept. 27 aims to draw more blacks into the political process and to hold candidates more accountable, organizers said.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that to make improvements in our community, we've got to take the lead ourselves" said local NAACP Vice President Joe Rowe.

The Chattanooga Voter Empowerment Team, a group made up of the NAACP, local clergy and community organizations, will host the forum at Olivet Baptist Church. The forum is co-sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Candidates for major state and federal offices have been invited to attend and discuss issues ranging from jobs to health and youth development.

The next president will shape the economic and social consciousness in our community, said the Rev. Roderick Ware, pastor of New Monumental Baptist Church.

"We need to make sure our interests are represented and that we are a part of the political process," he said. "It is every citizen's duty to make sure that they participate in the process of electing our leaders."

The forum has invited eight candidates running for state Legislature, U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; five have confirmed that they will attend, organizers said.

All people are welcome to attend, said Raquetta Dotley, Voter Empowerment Team secretary. About 100 to 150 people attended the first forum this year in August and there were as many whites as blacks, she said.

The Voter Empowerment Team is targeting blacks because so many don't vote, said Chandra Wilson, another team coordinator.

About 6 million blacks of voting age nationwide are not registered to vote, according to statistics cited by Rowe. About 10,000 blacks in Hamilton County are not registered, he said.

The Voter Empowerment team has a goal to register 1,000 people to vote this year and has registered about 750 so far, he said.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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