Downtown rally attracts big crowd

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A crowd of approximately 350 people gathered in the parking lotbehind the train depot to listen to state and local candidatesstate their platforms at The DAILY LEADER’s first county politicalrally Monday evening.

Members of the crowd were able to connect faces, names andagendas as the 47 candidates on hand spoke for about five minuteseach. Many local residents saw the event as terribly important tothe decision-making process.

“I believe there should be more of these things,” said PatrickBrown, of Brookhaven. “For one thing, some people don’t realize theextreme importance of this election. The people we put in officethis year determine our future for the next four years.”

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DAILY LEADER Publisher Bill Jacobs said he was pleased with theturnout for the event.

“It’s important for the community to get involved with thepolitical scene other than what they hear on the radio and in thecommercials,” he said. “This gave people a chance to connect namesand faces and kick the tires, as it were.”

Lincoln County resident Shelly Jordan agreed.

“You get a ballot and you don’t know who any of these candidatesare by name alone unless you educate yourself, and this is a greatchance to do that,” she said. “This way you know who stands forwhat, and you can decide who to vote for.”

DAILY LEADER Advertising Manager David Culpepper, who organizedthe event, said he felt it was a success especially in the light ofthe threatening weather earlier in the day.

“I was pleased with the mixture of friends and relatives of thecandidates as well as people who just had interest in what wasbeing said despite the weather we had earlier in the afternoon,” hesaid. “It gave the citizens of Brookhaven and Lincoln County apretty vivid picture of who the candidates were and what they standfor and that’s the reason why we sponsored the program.”

Culpepper had stated one of the few guidelines for the speakerswas that they were to focus on their strengths rather than tearingdown their opponents. With only a few exceptions, the candidateskept their speeches friendly and positive, and focused on theirplatforms.

Vince Bailey, of Brookhaven, said that was one aspect of therally that impressed him.

“I liked this rally,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he liked the setup in which candidates could makecomments but not accept questions from the audience. He indicatedquestions could open the rally up to problems from opponents andothers.

“If they don’t like (the candidate), they want to downgradehim,” Bailey said. “That’s wrong.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the fact that all thecandidates were allowed to speak gave voters a chance to listen totheir guts on who they were going to put their faith in.

“You can tell if what someone says is the truth,” saidHenderson. “The good thing about today is that voters could tellwhat is true and what is false, and it gave them a chance to knowthe candidates.”

Brown said that in his mind, integrity is the key issue in thisyear’s elections.

“Community trust is the most important issue here,” he said.”It’s not all about who you know, it’s about who’s going to get thejob done in a fair and honest way.”

Jacobs said he hoped that the mixture of all corners of LincolnCounty that congregated at the rally were able to focus on thosevery issues.

“These are the grassroots of politics,” he said. “All politics,as they say, are local. I feel like there were a lot of decisionsmade on these candidates.”

DAILY LEADER officials offered their thanks to the candidatesand supporters that attended the rally, as well as to the GirlScouts, Save the Haven, and the Hog Chain and Zetus Volunteer FireDepartments who were on hand selling refreshments.

“I think we would definitely consider doing this again in futureelections,” said Culpepper. “I thought it turned out reallywell.”