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NAACP sponsors first mayoral debate

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
April 18, 2001
Incumbent Mayor John Robert Smith and Republican challenger Wally Hudnall have agreed to meet in the first mayoral debate of the election season, officials said Tuesday.
The debate, sponsored by the local chapter of the NAACP, is scheduled Thursday night and will feature the two candidates in the only contested party primary.
Obie Clark, president of the local NAACP, said invitations have been sent to all candidates to attend the event, but only Smith and Hudnall will take part in the debate.
In addition to Smith and Hudnall three other candidates are seeking the city's top post. Independents Bill McBride, Charlie Haynes and Democratic challenger William Hugh Johnson are all also vying for the position. Johnson is unopposed in the Democratic Primary.
Clark said the NAACP will be hosting another debate with all the remaining candidates before the general election in June to give citizens another opportunity to make informed decisions about which candidate gets their vote.
According to Clark, Thursday night's forum will give Smith and Hudnall an opportunity to make opening remarks, take questions from the audience and finish with closing remarks.
Clark says he is hopeful citizens can come away from the debate with a clearer idea of what the candidates stand for.
Party primaries are set for May 1 with runoff elections two weeks later. The general election is scheduled for June 6.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, extension 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.