GREENFIELD — Republican candidates running for local offices will square off in public debates next month.
The candidates for county coroner will kick off the debate series March 11, followed by the candidates for county commissioner March 18; both debates will be held at the Hancock County Public Library.
On March 23, a debate will be conducted at Greenfield-Central High School for the 11 candidates vying for three at-large county council seats.
No debates are planned for Democrats this spring because there are no contested races among Democrats who have already filed to run in the election.
The coroner and commissioner debates are expected to last an hour and will begin at 5:30 p.m. Because there are 11 candidates, the council debate will last about 90 minutes. It also begins at 5:30 p.m.
The debates are free for the public to attend and will be filmed and posted to the Daily Reporter’s website so those who are unable to attend may view the footage later.
All three debates will be moderated by Wayne Addison, who is no stranger to crowds. He’s been an auctioneer for years and has emceed similar events.
When Addison moderates March 11, it will be his second time serving as moderator for local debates. Last spring, he served as moderator in the Greenfield mayoral debate between Mayor Chuck Fewell and Judy Swift, Fewell’s Republican challenger.
Addison’s goal is to hold an event that gives voters — who will begin casting their ballots for the primary as early as April 5 — a chance to see their candidates in person and learn their stances on major issues.
“I’m looking forward to running a debate that’s better than what we’ve seen on TV for the national elections,” he said.
Addison said he was proud of last year’s mayoral debate, during which each candidate respected their challenger. He hopes to see that cordiality in this year’s debates.
Debates are important because they give candidates another avenue to discuss issues important to them and residents, Addison said.
Addison said he is among those who look forward to learning what distinguishes the candidates from each other.
The first two debates will be conducted in the community room at the library, which can hold about 100 people. The council debate will be conducted in the auditorium at Greenfield-Central High School to accommodate a bigger crowd.
The library has hosted a number of election debates over the years. Director Dave Gray said staff at the library enjoy helping to plan the debates, and the facility offers a neutral site where all candidates feel welcome.
As residents prepare to vote, it’s important they have the opportunity to inform themselves about each of the candidates; debates offer that chance, Gray said.
NineStar Connect crews will be on hand to record each debate; a link to the footage will be posted on greenfieldreporter.com. NineStar will also replay the debates for NineStar customers on Channel 9, said David Spencer, director of marketing.
“We want to be a good community partner,” Spencer said. “It’s important to get all of the candidates out there and their voices heard so the electorate can make their choices.”
Debates will be held for Republicans running in the coroner, county council and commissioner races.
Here are the candidates:
Brad Armstrong (incumbent)
County council at-large
Debbie Bledsoe (incumbent)
Kent Fisk (incumbent)
Debates for the four contested local races will be held in March.
March 11: Coroner debate at 5:30 p.m. at Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road.
March 18: Commissioner debate at 5:30 p.m. at Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road.
March 23: Council debate at 5:30 p.m. at Greenfield-Central High School, 810 N. Broadway St.