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Candidates forum will have a new twist to it
With help of the high schools, event will be streamed live
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The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce typically hosts candidate forums during election years, but this year’s has a new wrinkle.

While anyone is welcome to attend Tuesday’s forum, another option will be to watch it on a computer.

“That’s a first for us,” said Chamber executive director Rick Lott.

The forum, for Effingham County commission and board of education candidates, will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Effingham College and Career Academy.

It also will be live-streamed at

Whether people watch the forum in-person or online, Lott considers it a great opportunity to learn more about the local candidates prior to the May 20 primary.

“It’s such a great way for the public to not only get a feeling for the candidates’ views on issues, but also just to see how they handle themselves,” Lott said. “You’re going to be in the public eye in these positions and people are going to be asking you questions all through your term if you’re elected.”

Several candidates are vying for office, as all three county commission seats up for election are contested and four people are running in the board of education’s fourth district.

All of those candidates plan to participate in the forum, Lott said. Scheduled to attend are:
Commission District 2 – Vera Jones (incumbent) and Dusty Zeigler
Commission District 3 – Steve Mason (I) and Jamie Deloach
Commission District 5 – Phil Kieffer (I) and David Crawley
Board of Eudcation District 1 – Robert Grant
Board of Education District 4 – Elizabeth Helmly, Faith Jaudon, Ben Johnson and Amanda Phillips.

“As of right now, unless somebody has something come up, everybody has said they will attend,” Lott said.

The candidates for each seat will make opening statements, answer questions from a panel and give closing statements. The one exception is Grant, since he is running unopposed.

“We’re not going to have him go through the questions, but just simply give him a little bit longer opening statement,” Lott explained.

The Chamber is partnering with Effingham County and South Effingham high schools to provide the online video feed of the forum. Video production students from both schools will be on hand to produce the live stream.

Lott said he had been tossing around the idea of live-streaming a candidate forum, and he brought it up when he saw principals Yancy Ford and Mark Winters at a meeting.

“They thought, ‘That’s doable,’ and it went from there,” Lott said. “We’re very pleased to have them willing to do that.”

Whereas some forums held locally this spring have included U.S. Senate and House candidates, Tuesday’s will be solely for Effingham County races.

“These are all your neighbors,” Lott said. “This is the guy next-door who has decided that he wants to do something for the community by being a public servant. That’s not something you do lightly, and it takes an awful lot of your time and energy to do that, whatever the seat is.”

Candidates’ Forum
• When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
• Where: Effingham College and Career Academy
• What: Forum for county commission and board of education candidates
• Online: