There were almost as many candidates running in the municipal election as voters asking questions at the ” Cookout with the Candidates” event, Saturday afternoon in the lot of Local Coffee of East Ridge.
However, the voters who did attend what was billed as a combination “meet and greet” and “cookout” had almost unlimited access to those running for mayor, city council, court clerk and the state house in district 30.
Kevin Roberts, who has been performing as a musician on a cruise ship and out of the country for the better part of six months, said he found the event “useful and helpful.”
“It’s not so much who we put in (to office) as it is who we take out,” Roberts said after talking with a number of the candidates.
Roberts said he walked away from the “Cookout with the Candidates” with a very favorable impression of Jeff Ezell.
Ezell, a political newcomer in East Ridge, stayed close to the shade of a tent that he and his supporters had set up.
The blistering heat on the blacktop of the parking lot could have been a factor in the sparse turnout. Many of the candidates stood on the sidewalk and waived campaign signs at passing motorists who honked horns and waived. The candidates that this reporter spoke with said they interacted with less than a dozen voters over the three-hour event.
East Ridge resident Buddy Griffith said that he came out to the event even though his mind was already made up on who he was voting for.
“I already know my politics,” he said as he discussed details of the upcoming PioneerFest that will be held next Saturday at Camp Jordan Park.
Griffith said that he spoke with Joda Thongnopnua, the Democratic nominee for State Representative District 30, and walked away impressed.
“I like Joda,” he said. “That young man has some ideas. I’ve never crossed party lines but this time I think I’m gonna have to.”
Mimi Lowrey, the chairperson of the East Ridge Needy Child Fund and the person who organized the event, said she spoke with all the candidates and changed her mind about who she would cast her ballot for in the council race.
City council candidate Aundie Witt, who is jumping into the political realm for the fist time, said the “Cookout with the Candidates” was a positive experience.
“I think this shows unity,” Witt said. “We can all come out together in a cordial manner.”
Witt said she would like to see the event continue forward during future elections.
The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 municipal election is Tuesday, October 9. Early voting begins on October 17 and runs through November 1.