Spartanburg Herald-Journal: GOP candidate forum brings out voters

I enjoyed attending the forum hosted by the Spartanburg County GOP this evening and answering tough questions from voters in Spartanburg County. Unfortunately, my opponent chose not to attend the event and defend his record to his constituents.  Elected officials or candidates offering themselves up for public service should never pass up an opportunity to answer tough questions from taxpayers and residents.

Felicia Kitzmiller covered the event for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

As a human resources professional, Spartanburg County GOP Chairman Nic Lane knows something about asking questions, so he offered attendees at Thursday night’s candidate forum a tip.

“It’s the responsibility of the interviewer to make sure they are digging deep, to make sure they get all the information to make a decision,” he said.

Lane encouraged the nearly 200 people at the GOP-sponsored forum to “pressure test” the candidates for County Council, county auditor, state House, superintendent of education, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate during the two-hour event. Candidates for county-level offices fielded questions submitted by the audience, while other candidates were given a few minutes to introduce themselves. State House candidates did not participate in the program, but several attended to meet voters and answer questions individually.

During the presentations, Walt and Donna Lapp of Boiling Springs took diligent notes and consulted with one another during breaks, trying to identify their ideal candidates. Thursday night’s event was the third GOP candidate event they have attended in recent months. They said they are still struggling to decide who will get their votes in the June 10 primary.

“It’s hard just trying to be educated,” Donna Lapp said.

The Lapps said the opportunity to meet the candidates individually is helpful, but the similarity of many of the candidates in the primary is a challenge. Several candidates for office did not attend the forum, which created an additional challenge, Donna Lapp said. For example, County Councilman Dale Culbreth attended, but his challenger, Bob Walker, did not. Incumbent County Councilman O’Neal Mintz did not attend, but his challenger, Justin Bradley, did. Donna Lapp said this made it difficult to distinguish between candidates in individual races.

After four years of living in the area, the Lapps said at every forum they learn about new issues being dealt with in government that affect taxpayers. Donna Lapp said she was surprised more people didn’t attend Thursday’s forum, or others like it.

“I think there really isn’t a lot of awareness about issues, especially on the local level,” she said.

County Councilman Roger Nutt attended the forum, though he is running uncontested in District 6. Nutt said he didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to meet residents and answer questions.

“Anytime anyone has a question in Spartanburg County, there ought to be somewhere you can go to get answers,” he said.

Five of the six Republicans challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the primary attended the meeting and all urged change in Washington, D.C., if for slightly different reasons. Det Bowers, a Columbia pastor, acknowledged the challenge voters face in making their selections.

“You all are the warriors in this battle because you came out tonight,” he said. “You could be somewhere else, but you are here because you want to make a difference.”

Councilman Roger Nutt videoed the discussion, which I will post as soon as it is available.