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State Senate, U.S. House candidates to face off in debate Thursday

Forsyth County voters will have a chance this week to hear from conservative candidates for two races on the May 22 Republican Primary. 

Starting at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, the Forsyth County Republican Party will host debates for candidates running in races for District 27 state Senate and Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District at the Forsyth County Administration Building.

“The Forsyth County Republican Party has a long history holding debates,” said Patrick Bell, chairman of the party. “It’s an opportunity for the voters to meet the candidates and really hear and see how they answer questions.”

Bell said it is better for voters to see candidates in action than to rely on ads and other parts of campaigns.

“It’s almost like texting,” he said. “You can’t always tell about a candidate when you get a mailer, when you see a Facebook ad or a robocall. But when you can see their expressions and you can see how quickly they answer or how they have to stop and think about it or how they react to something someone might say, you can see that first hand.”

Debating for the District 27 seat are candidates Bill Fielder, Brian Tam and Greg Dolezal, and Incumbent Rob Woodall and challenger Shane Hazel will debate for the congressional seat. 

Bell said the debate would be moderated, and each candidate would have a chance to ask questions to other candidates. He said candidates will not be given questions ahead of time.

“Each candidate will be asked a question, they’ll be able to answer that question and then follow-up additionally after that with another round,” he said. 

“They can either clarify the question or refute what someone else may have said.  We want to enable candidates to get their message out. We don’t really want to start any arguments, but we want them to have the time to get their message out or question their opponents.” 

Bell said he is hoping to have other Republican debates on May 2 and May 8. Bell said he is still awaiting confirmation for candidates for those debates, though District 1 Commission Candidate Dooz Owings — who is running against Molly Cooper — told the Forsyth County News he would not be able to attend the District 1 debate.