Bridgeport Meet the Candidates event set for Monday night

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Bridgeport, W.Va. (CONNECT BRIDGEPORT) -- Six candidates – only two of whom are incumbents - are vying for spots in the upcoming Bridgeport municipal election. Residents can become informed voters by attending the "Meet the Candidates" event.

Hosted by the GFWC Woman’s Club of Bridgeport, the event begins at 7 p.m. May 20 and will be held at the Benedum Civic Center.

Current City Recorder Hank Murray is running unopposed for that position. There are five candidates for the City Council race, filling seats currently held by Jeff Smell and Lowell Maxey. Smell is seeking reelection. Also seeking City Council spots are Don Burton, James Yeater, Adam Starkey and Donnie Tate.

Each candidate will be allowed an allotted amount of time for introductions, after which they will be addressed with questions.

“We’ll take questions from the audience, but people don’t have to stand up and ask them – unless they want to,” said Ruth Allen of GFWC Woman’s Club of Bridgeport. “We’ll pass out index cards so individuals can write their questions down.”

Again, candidates will be timed to answer questions and express their views on various issues addressed.

GFWC club members will facilitate the forum, which is expected to last about two hours.

The club has hosted the event on election years for the past decade, just after Allen ended her own term with City Council.

“I had told City Council in one of our sessions that here was a need for this type of event,” she said. “The newspaper sends questions and asks candidates to answer them – which is fine – but people have their own ideas about what they want to ask, so it was decided to do it in this manner.”

Much positive feedback has been received.

“We’ve had several people in the past say they thought they were going to vote for one candidate, but after coming and hearing candidates speak, they changed their minds,” Allen said.

The municipal election is June 11, but the forum was set in May so voters could become informed prior to early voting which starts that week, Allen said.

Light refreshments will follow the question and answer session.

Candidates are asked to arrive by 6:45 p.m. to draw numbers for order of speaking. Citizens are also asked to arrive at that time to ensure adequate seating is in place before the event begins.

“We do encourage the public to come meet all of the candidates so they will be better informed in their decisions to vote," Allen said.