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Traffic flows along Chickamauga Avenue in front of some of the first few businesses leading into downtown Rossville, Georgia, on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. / Staff file photo by Erin O. Smith

Qualifying for the new Walker County Board of Commissioners ended last week, and the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group is making it easy for District 1 and at-large candidates to meet their constituents and learn what matters to them.

On Tuesday, March 17, the Rossville-based citizens group is hosting a town hall meeting where residents and voters can voice concerns and suggestions to the candidates as well as pose questions.

Candidates at this meeting are invited to listen, not provide answers until a follow-up meeting in April, said group co-founder David Roden.

He suggested residents bring questions or concerns to the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at Stone Creek Elementary School, and they can contact the group in advance with topics they would like discussed.

"The better educated our voters are, the better our representation should be," Roden said.

Candidates will have a month to research and form their answers before sharing them with voters at the second meeting on April 14.

Roden said the reasoning for setting two meetings is to give candidates the chance to put their best foot forward and not put candidates on the spot if they aren't knowledgeable about a certain issue.

"To ask for an immediate answer from some on the panel without the chance to think and research might be unfair and the answers given might give off the wrong impression," he wrote in an email to the invited candidates.

Two years ago, residents of Walker County voted overwhelmingly to transition from a sole commissioner to a five-member board, spreading the power to multiple elected officials. The switch will go into effect January 2021, with the primary in May and final vote in November.

Voters in each of the four districts — which boil down to the areas containing Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Lookout Mountain — will elect their commissioner, and voters countywide will also vote for an at-large chair.

Representatives for districts 1 and 2 (Rossville and Chickamauga, respectively) will serve two-year terms. Those representing the other districts and the at-large chair will serve four-year terms.

Early voting for the primary begins April 27.

Email Sabrina Bodon at sbodon@timesfreepress.com.

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