At a glance
The schedule for the Forsyth County Republican Party forums is as follows:
* Thursday — 7 p.m., District 26 state House of Representatives candidates at the Central Park recreation center.
* April 21 — 6:30 p.m., District 1 Forsyth County Board of Education and solicitor general at the Forsyth County Administration Building.
* April 24 — 6:30 p.m., Forsyth County Schools bond referendum question/answer and state school superintendent race at the county administration building.
* April 28 — 6:30 p.m., District 24 state House and District 27 state Senate seat at the administration building.
Source: Forsyth County GOP
FORSYTH COUNTY — To help voters prepare for the May 20 primary, the Forsyth County Republican Party has organized a series of four candidate forums, each focusing on different contested races.
“For some of these races, it’s the only opportunity to see the candidates side by side and have a chance to judge them based on the merits of their message,” said Brad Wilkins, party chairman.
The forums begin Thursday with the District 26 state House race between incumbent Geoff Duncan and Republican challenger Tom Knox.
Knox was a state lawmaker from 2001-10 before stepping down to run for state insurance commissioner. In 2012, he was defeated in his effort to reclaim the seat, narrowly falling to Duncan.
The April 21 forum will feature the candidates for the District 1 seat on the Forsyth County Board of Education — incumbent Ann Crow, Amanda Nixon and Mark Weiss — followed by a debate between the solicitor general hopefuls.
While candidates Susan Zereini and Bill Finch will be there, Wilkins said incumbent Solicitor General Donna Gopaul has said she will be unable to attend due to a previously scheduled campaign event at the same time.
On April 24, the party will hold a school night, offering both a question-and-answer session on the bond referendum to help fund Forsyth County Schools facilities projects and a debate between four of the 16 candidates for the state school superintendent office.
The final forum is set for April 28 and will include the candidates for the District 24 state House of Representatives and District 27 state Senate posts.
Both incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Hamilton and challenger Sheri Smallwood Gilligan will participate in the District 24 debate, according to Wilkins.
Citing a legislative conflict, incumbent Sen. Jack Murphy will not be able to attend the event, though his Republican challengers — Lauren McDonald III, Jack Schiff and Michael Williams — will be there.
No Democrats have qualified to run for any of the posts, so the primary will decide the races in Forsyth.
Wilkins said the party wanted to hold the forums early enough so people could hear from the candidates. The last day to register to vote in the primary is April 28, and early voting begins seven days later.
“April really was the best time to do it,” he said.