For a first time event, I feel like our candidate meet and greet went over rather smoothly last week at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.
Granted, I would have liked to seen a better turnout from registered voters. But we did see a pretty good number of folks come through the doors and attempt to become educated on the wide variety of selections that will be on the ballot May 6.
I was impressed with the number of candidates who jumped at the opportunity to attend. Running for public office isn’t cheap. Between newspaper and radio advertising, signs, direct-mail flyers and other avenues of getting their message out, candidates spend a good deal of money during election season – especially when the field is full of candidates seeking one spot as we have in a few primaries this spring. But this event was free and a good way to inform the electorate.
I think it is one of our basic duties as a newspaper to inform the community of government and election news. This was a good opportunity to do that and, if we have an opportunity to do it again this summer prior to the August elections, I hope the community will take advantage and the demand for events like these will continue to grow. The strong connection between a community and its elected leaders and officials is essential for any community to grow and thrive. A disconnect only invites confusion and discontent.
The conference center and executive chef Mike Osborne also realize the importance of community elections and events to promote them and should be commended. Osborne offered use of the taxpayer subsidized conference center at cost for the Manchester Times and The Tullahoma News to host the event at an affordable rate without stretching funds too far.
The ability and quick thinking of Osborne to offer this discounted rate to ensure taxpayers would have at least one opportunity to freely examine all candidates is an attitude that should be appreciated and mimicked by more in our community.
Thank you to everyone who attended and I hope you go to the polls May 6.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the editor’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column. He can be reached by firstname.lastname@example.org by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29