About 50-people spent their Sunday afternoon listening to candidates vie for their vote at the NAACP's first candidate's forum of the year at Mt. Olive C.M.E. Cathedral Church.
Almost half the people in that crowd were politicians themselves. Some were there to speak, others who already hold positions were there to see how candidates would fit into the political fabric of Memphis and the state of Tennessee.
Senior citizens active in civic affairs showed up. The crowd also held members of various non-partisan political organizations. But what made the crowd more interesting was the number of young people involved. The event was emceed and hosted by the NAACP Youth Council. Pamela Burton's daughter is on the council. Burton said the key to a strong future is to invest in those who will hold the power in the days to come. "They're gonna have the right to go out and to vote and it's a teaching process. We have to teach our children so that they will know how to go out, how to be cultured."
Representatives and candidate's for the following offices attended the forum:
A spokesperson from the Department of Health attended in Governor Phil Bredesen's absence. He said Governor Bredesen has balanced the budget four years in a row and opened the door to diversity when hiring government personnel. Bredesen's spokesperson said the Governor supports job creation and economic development.
Harold Ford, Junior attended the forum. He called for a new vision in the war on Iraq. Ford said America needs to find new oil resources and must protect weak areas along its borders.
US HOUSE DISTRICT 9
Democratic candidate Steve Cohen called for more police on the streets to tackle crime. Cohen also said the President should bring American troops home and the country should invest more in health care and college scholarships.
Republican candidate for the District 9 seat Mark White said he wants to put prayer back in schools and he hopes to keep health insurance premiums from surging higher. White said it's time to turn the school dropout rate around.
TN SENATE DISTRICT 29
Republican Terry Roland said education, senior citizens and health care are the crux of his platform. He believes the T-DOT surplus money should be used to help fund health care.
TN HOUSE DISTRICT 86
State Representative Barbara Cooper attended the forum. She says the government should help people to be job ready. She says she believes more students should be made aware of the HOPE scholarship. Cooper said high school students must be made more aware of college opportunities.
TN HOUSE DISTRICT 89
State Representative Beverly Marrero said seniors, family and health care are the core of her platform. She hopes to find new ways to insure those who are deemed "uninsurable."
MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOL BOARD: AT LARGE, POSITION 2
School board candidate David Page said he hopes to implement a discipline initiative he designed and piloted in Nashville. Candidate Juanita Stephenson said she will work to help increase school attendance and high classroom turnover. Candidate Ed Vaughn said he will work to help improve school safety, accountability and student achievement.
MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOL BOARD: DISTRICT 2
MCS Commissioner Deni Hirsh said she believes in accountability and early childhood development. Candidate Betty Mallot said she's concerned about youth risk behavior and believes students should be job ready. Candidate Arnold Weiner said he wants tougher discipline in the classrooms.
MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOL BOARD: DISTRICT 6
Carl Johnson said he believes in offering equal opportunity education.