By Ian Berry
Many of the candidate forums going on in this election season take place in venues that are full of people but empty of what candidates value most: votes.
Remove the candidates (and their parents, spouses and other members of the entourage) from the equation, and there are usually very few independent voters in the audience.
As Joe Dumas, a candidate for Hamilton County Commission District 2, began his stump speech at a forum at the South Chattanooga Recreation Center Thursday night, he noted that his appearance would have to be more about discussing issues in the county than winning over voters. His district includes Signal Mountain and Lookout Mountain.
I dont think there are more than one or two people here from my district tonight, but that doesnt matter, said Dr. Dumas, who is running as an independent.
He and several other candidates (including County Commission candidates John Bailes, Cynthia Colmean and Brian Caldwell, and county mayor candidate Brian Johnson) were back at it 12 hours later, when they appeared at a Coffee With the Candidates gathering downtown at Miller Plaza.
The crowd was filled mostly with candidates and a few television news crews.
As a couple of candidates noted, if you miss any one organizations event, they may take it as a snub.
Also, some of the candidates take notes on their opponents attendance records.
A lot of people talk about poor voter turnout. Im disappointed in the candidate turnout, Dr. Dumas said Thursday night. There are two other people running for my seat, and I have yet to see either of them at a candidates forum.
There are two candidates running for that seats Republican nomination, Ken Holloway and Commissioner Richard Casavant. Mr. Holloway has said he wasnt appearing at organizations events because he didnt want to be beholden to those groups.
Dr. Casavant noted there are few voters at events outside the district, and that he didnt know what Dr. Dumas problem was.
Right now, Im running in a Republican primary, Dr. Casavant said. Im not running against Dr. Dumas.
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