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Political notebook: Upcoming debates and forums

With the general election less than two months away, incumbents and challengers in local, state and federal races are intensifying their efforts on the campaign trail.

Candidate forums or debates are often used to communicate candidates’ messages. But this year, North Carolina voters will decide on six proposed amendments to the state constitution.

Some upcoming public and televised discussions will focus not on candidates but on those proposed amendments.

Here’s a roundup of upcoming debates and forums in our area:

Hometown Debate. 7 p.m. Tuesday

Hosted by the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership and the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce at Meroney Theatre in Salisbury, 213 S. Main St.

The debate will focus on a proposed amendment that would change the process to fill judiciary vacancies. The  Meroney will open at 6:30 p.m., and the debate will start at 7 p.m.

Spectrum’s Loretta Boniti will moderate the debate featuring panelists Wayne Goodwin, executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party; state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-20; state Sen. Paul Newton; R-36; and Brian Woodcox, special counsel to the N.C. General Assembly.

Spectrum News will tape and broadcast the debate on its website, www.spectrumlocalnews.com, with an abbreviated version on its program “In Focus” at 11:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Streaming coverage and online sources will also be available.

State Legislature candidates forum, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday

The Rowan County Tea Party Patriots will host a forum for legislative candidates at Blue Bay Seafood Restaurant on Statesville Boulevard.

Dinner will be followed by time for questions and answers.

Participating are Republican House candidates Harry Warren, District 76; Julia Howard, District 77; and Larry Pittman, District 83; and Republican Senate candidate Carl Ford, District 33.

State Legislature candidates forum, 6 p.m. Oct. 16.

Held in the Rowan County commissioners chambers at 130 W. Innes St., this forum is sponsored by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.

It will focus on legislative races. In Rowan, those include Senate District 33 and House Districts 76, 77 and 83.

Candidates include Republican incumbent Harry Warren and Democrat Joe Fowler in House District 76; Republican incumbent Julia Howard and Democrat Bonnie Clark in House District 77; Republican incumbent Larry Pittman and Democrat Gail Young in House District 83; and Republican Carl Ford and Democrat Arin Wilhelm in Senate District 33.

Michael Bitzer, professor of politics at Catawba College, will moderate the forum.

State Employees Association endorses Democratic candidate in N.C. House District 83

The State Employees Association of North Carolina has endorsed Democrat Gail Young in her bid to unseat a Republican incumbent in state House District 83.

The association’s political arm, Employees Political Action Committee, voted to endorse Young and recognized her Sept. 7 at its annual banquet in Greensboro.

Young is challenging Republican incumbent Larry Pittman in the Nov. 6 election.

Before beginning her campaign, Young devoted her career to public service and has long been an advocate for government reform and accountability, according to the association.

She says she understands the challenges facing state employees and retirees, including rising health care costs, job and retirement security, and the increased cost of living.

“SEANC has over 55,000 members in diverse roles from parole and corrections officers to school bus drivers and environmental specialists,” Young said. “I look forward to working with them on common goals to improve the lives and working conditions of employees across our state.”

Before retiring in 2014, Young had worked in government nearly 27 years. She was a division director in Mecklenburg County government, overseeing budgets and financial reporting for Land Use and Environmental Services.

Young also has been a management training instructor and local government retreat facilitator at the UNC School of Government. She currently is a professional consultant, providing leadership and team development for international companies and federal government agencies.

According to a news release, Young’s record, reputation and qualifications assured the committee that she would be a consistent advocate for state employees and retirees in the legislature.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the State Employees Association,” said Young. “As a state representative, I will champion policies to protect North Carolina residents who have devoted their lives and careers to serving the public.”

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