The Charleston and Mattoon Chambers of Commerce held a candidate forum for the Coles County sheriff race and the 110th District State Representative race Tuesday night.
Four candidates were invited to speak at the forum, including Greg Voudrie (Democratic candidate for sheriff), Jim Rankin (Republican candidate for sheriff and current sheriff), Shirley Bell (Democratic candidate for the State Representative for the 110th District) and Chris Miller (Republican candidate for the State Representative for the 110th District).
Bell said she believes holding candidate forums is important to the public.
“Candidate forums are essential. We want everyone to vote, and we also want to inform voters,” Bell said. “The only way they can be informed about their candidates is if (the candidates) are willing to get up and answer questions and talk with folks. (Candidates forums) are fundamental to our democratic process.”
Miller said he also believes candidate forums are beneficial to voters.
“One of things that’s nice about (candidate forums) is that it gives candidates the opportunity to actually meet (constituents) in person,” Miller said. “Typically in a political campaign it’s ‘he said, she said, they said,’ and most of the time the debate isn’t about issues; it’s about, ‘What can we say to make this candidate look bad?.’”
Bell and Miller spoke on nationally-debated topics.
Rankin was unable to attend due to a “previously scheduled commitment that couldn’t be changed,” according to a pre-written statement read by Carrie Pollom, a member of the sheriff’s re-election committee.
Pollom was able to read Rankin’s pre-written opening and closing statements but was not allowed to answer questions on his behalf.
Voudrie said he would be accessible as sheriff.
“I plan to be there,” Voudrie said. “I plan to put in a forty-hour week and of that I want to put ten percent of my time each week working with the deputies.”
He also said he would not take a second pension as sheriff.
“I have to pay into that pension system and whenever I’m done, however many terms that is, I will draw out the money I pay in,” Voudrie said. “My pension is from the Mattoon Police Department and it is sufficient for me for the remainder of my life.”
In reference to the opioid epidemic, Voudrie said it “should be a priority, not an afterthought.”
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]