NAACP: Candidates not intentionally excluded

Published 2:17 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Local NAACP chapter president Gloria Tucker said a breakdown in communications was responsible for some county candidates being omitted from a political forum at Patton Lane Community Center last week.

Select candidates spoke at last Thursday night’s event, but others were reportedly upset they had no invitation to the forum and would have welcomed the opportunity to campaign.

Tucker told The Panolian she posted the announcement on Facebook and invited all candidates and the public. The forum was held in conjunction with a regular monthly meeting of the local NAACP chapter and the members handled some agenda items before the public speaking began.

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“No one was left out on purpose,” Tucker said. “We wanted everyone to attend and all the candidates speak.”

Tucker said she did not have the mobile contact numbers for all candidates and thought social media posts would reach all who will be on the ballot next month.

Chancery Clerk Katie Ragon and one of her challengers, Justin Pope, spoke, as did two of the candidates for Sheriff – incumbent Shane Phelps and Otis Griffin. Representatives for the race’s other candidate, Dennis Darby, said he did not receive an invite.

Two of the three candidates for District 4 Supervisor spoke, Mike Woods and Charles Roach, but incumbent Chad Weaver did not know about the event.  Both Woods and Roach confirmed they were not invited, but heard about the event about an hour before the start and came on their own.

In the District 3 Supervisor race, challenger Lindsey Sanford was present and spoke, but longtime supervisor and incumbent John Thomas did not have an invitation.

District 5 Supervisor Cole Flint, who represents Patton Lane, was not invited, but saw a social media post from the event and came late. He spoke and took questions. His opponent in the Nov. 7 General Election, Ted Stewart, could not attend because of work obligations.

Tax Assessor/Collector Odell Draper spoke, but his challenger, former office holder David Garner, said he did not receive notice of the forum.

Both candidates for coroner were present and spoke, and both confirmed they had been invited by text.