Ocala Gazette Candidate Forum Sponsored by Neighborhood Storage

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Posted July 21, 2021 |

Ocala Gazette Candidate Forum

August 9th and 11th, 6 p.m., at the Marion Theater

Sponsored by Neighborhood Storage

Procedures and Rules

Sadie Fitzpatrick will moderate the Ocala Gazette Candidate Forum.

Monday’s event will include candidates running for seats 1, 3 and 5. Wednesday’s event will include candidates running for mayor and for seat 4.

The Ocala Gazette will follow a nonpartisan, unbiased and impartial format.

The forum is expected to be completed within a two hour time frame.

The event is free and open to the public and the media, however no other outlet may record the event.

The moderator will be Sadie Fitzpatrick of the Ocala Gazette. She will explain the procedures to the audience and introduce the candidates.

The forum will be video recorded and live streamed to the Ocala Gazette’s Facebook page. The final video recording will be posted prominently on the Ocala Gazette web page until the election.

Voters may submit questions in advance for consideration by the moderator of the forum. Those questions should be emailed to forum@ocalagazette.com. The identity of the person submitting the question will be confidential.

There will be no audience questions to the candidates.

All questions addressed to candidates will be nonpartisan in nature and related solely to the seat they are up for election. Incumbent candidates should expect specific questions regarding prior decisions. New candidates should expect questions about city policy and the issues they have based their platform on.

Paper and pens will be provided for candidate’s use. Props are not allowed. Bottled water will also be available.

Campaign literature, buttons, signs, clothing or any other campaign-related items must not be brought into the auditorium. However, a table for campaign literature will be available in the theater lobby for candidates to place campaign materials.

If you have any question about the Ocala Gazette Candidate Forum procedures, rules or policies, please contact Andrew Hinkle at andrew@magnoliamediaco.com.

For the candidates

Why participate in the Gazette forum?

As a candidate you can count on the Gazette moderator to treat you fairly without bias or favoritism because the Gazette represents the public and is not beholden to any private or public special interest, which sets us apart from other candidate forums.

Your participation in political forums is an expectation of voters and are a great way to get your message out to the public.

How should you prepare for a forum?

In the moderator’s first question, you will be given the opportunity to explain your qualifications. You will have a minute to answer that initial question. Concentrate this first answer on what your qualifications are, and some background information about you.

Save your closing statement for why voters would choose to vote for you and reiterating your highest priority issues.

Hot and emerging issues should be explored by attending meetings of the seat you are running for and reading prior minutes of city council meetings. Research various points of view and determine your position. Prepare talking points to use if the issue comes up in the forum.

How will the forum be run?

The moderator will randomly determine seating and question order.

The moderator will introduce you to the forum.

A time-keeper will sit in the front row and hold up a “15 second” card when time is running out and a “Stop” card when you must quickly complete your sentence.

Incumbent candidates should expect specific questions regarding prior decisions.

New candidates should expect questions about city policy and emerging issues they have based their campaign platform on.

The forum will not be a debate and candidates should not interrupt each other or the moderator.

Time limits for all comments will be strictly enforced.

In fairness to all candidates and the audience, we ask that these limits be respected. So that we can address as many questions as possible in the time available, each candidate will have 1 minute to answer each question.

If time permits, candidates will also have 2 minutes for a closing statement.

All candidates will rotate the order in which they respond to questions.

A cash bar will be available.

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