CHEROKEE COUNTY – Residents will have a chance to hear the positions of more than a dozen people running for contested races in the March 3 Republican primary during a 6 p.m. candidate forum Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Jacksonville College's Buckner Chapel.

“Only one candidate expressed that they may have a conflict that evening, but we think everyone will be there,” said Ted Wheeler, spokesman for the Cherokee County Republican Executive Committee, which is hosting the event.

The primary has drawn five candidates for the Cherokee County Sheriff's seat – longtime Sheriff James Campbell is set to retire at the end of the year – while three candidates are vying for the county tax assessor-collector position and two candidates each have entered the race for Precinct 1 Commissioner and Cherokee County Republican party chair.

“These candidates know one another, are friendly to one another – the day before the forum, we are going to provide them with the questions selected by the committee to allow them time to be prepared,” he said. “We want to allow them to convince the voters in Cherokee County about the position they're seeking, and we want to be fair to all of them.”

Several weeks ago, the committee solicited emailed questions from residents, and Wheeler said the group was pleased by the response.

“We were very pleased with the questions that were submitted – we had some really good ones, and we were able to come up with three questions for the candidates in each of the races,” he said, adding that he felt the public's response is due to “a heightened sense of what going on politically, even at national level and state level.

“Locally, this sheriff's race has generated most interest from people, who are sitting up taking notice of that. And we're delighted about that,” he said. The sheriff's race generated the most questions by residents, with about 15 submitted to the committee, with 12 questions submitted for the tax assessor.

“We're expecting a very good turnout Tuesday, and we welcome everyone to come – not just Republicans – to come hear the candidates and to form an opinion on who to vote for on March 3,” Wheeler said.

Josie Fox, publisher of The Cherokeean-Herald newspaper in Rusk, will serve as mistress of ceremony.

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