No matter who wins the sheriff’s race in November, Pickens County will have a new sheriff for the first time in more than forty years.
Efforts are underway to organize a debate between the three men vying to become Pickens County’s next sheriff.
The debate is slated for 6pm Tuesday, August 28 at the First Wesleyan Church of Easley.
Sheriff’s candidates Rick Clark, Stan Whitten and Tim Morgan have all committed to attend.
The sheriff’s race narrowed from four to three earlier this month when Independence Party candidate Keith Culbreath dropped out of the race.
The purpose of the debate is to introduce voters to the candidates vying to be Pickens County’s next sheriff and to help encourage voters to get out and vote November 6.
“More people than 9 percent (of registered voters) need to pick our sheriff,” said Henry Wilson with Voice of Pickens County. Wilson is on the ad hoc committee organizing the debate.
Unlike other debate formats, the audience will have an active role in this debate, actually helping select the questions the candidates will be asked.
Jim Wilkie, one of the event’s organizers, said that format gives the audience more buy-in to the debate, rather than just sitting passively as information and opinions are presented to them.
Organizers are currently calling for county groups to take part in the debate and serve as the panel submitting the questions to the candidates.
Each group will formulate questions to submit, then audience members will narrow those lists down, so that a wide variety of questions and viewpoints are represented in the debate.
Organizers say they hope the event, by offering a debate that is not heavily skewed or represented by a single political group or party, will encourages more participation across the county in the political process.
“It’s to reach out to more people across the community,” Wilson said. “Right now people are disenfranchised by the political system as a whole and the groups that are engaged in the political community. We want to have open engagement, open opportunities for people to bring their questions from their constituent groups.”
Organizer John Schafer agreed, adding that Pickens County and the issues important to residents are often ignored by the media during election cycles.
“The major TV stations focus on Spartanburg, Cherokee County, Greenville County and Anderson County, and they just jump past Pickens unless something really big happens,” Schafer said. “For the most part, the people of Pickens County are not really aware of what these guys that are candidates are all about. They just haven’t been informed.
“What we want to do is get them up there and have them answers from a variety of members of the community, so that the total community can get an idea of what each guy is about, based on what they hear there,” Schafer continued.
School District of Pickens County Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew has already committed to serve as one of the panelists, as have representatives from Voice of Pickens County and the Conservatives of the Upstate.
If you and your group is interested in serving on the panel, contact John Schafer at 855-3860 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The call for panelists will be open until Friday, August 17.
The debate is the first of several debates planned before the Nov. election. The other proposed debates will involve candidates for Senate and County Council.
Schafer said if turnout is high enough, there is a chance that two debates will be held between candidates for Senate.
Easley Patch is actively involved in organizing this event, so check back with us for more details on the event as they are announced.