Candidates far outnumbered voters at Monday night’s forum hosted by the Wise Republican Women in Chico.
Seventy-eight people, which included 24 candidates, their family members and a handful of voters, attended the event at Chico Community Center.
Chuck and Sue Rhodes of Decatur came to learn more about those running for office and left satisfied with what they learned.
“I wanted to know about the individual,” said Chuck. “Tell me about yourself. Tell me why I should vote for you. Convince me to vote for you.”
Sue said they were also considering volunteering in a campaign or two but wanted to know more about the candidates before making any final decisions.
“We’ve lived in seven states, and we’ve been active in different campaigns,” she said.
Chuck said they had campaigned for former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and U.S. Rep. Dick Armey of Texas. Having only lived in Wise County since 2007, he said they’re still familiarizing themselves with local candidates and the political culture of the area.
Monday’s event was set up to be a fast-paced forum. Each candidate had a table, and the first hour was split into five-minute increments. During a five-minute window, voters could visit with one candidate. A horn was blown to signify when it was time to move to the next table.
The Rhodes, along with another couple, first visited with Chico Mayor J.D. Clark, who is running for county judge.
Clark outlined the five areas he would like to focus on if elected, which include a responsible budget, long-term water planning, countywide economic development, county facilities and transparency. He also noted that he wants to be available to constituents outside of commissioners court and might hold a regular coffee-drinking time.
The Rhodes also took time to talk with U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, and they said they appreciated the fact that he’s not on TV every time they turn on the news.
Thornberry’s wife, Sally, piped up. “He’s a workhorse, not a show horse,” she said.
Thornberry agreed, smiling.
“I’m not a big fan of being on TV just to see my face,” he said.
As the conversation continued, he told the Rhodes countering falsehoods is a constant battle during the campaign.
“Our biggest challenge is running down rumors and chasing what’s true and what’s not,” he said. “And you have to know that before you can go fix something.” Thornberry also addressed Obamacare and the relationship between the House and the Senate.
Since there were so few voters in attendance, only a couple of candidates ever had a “five-minute audience.” Although the end of the event was reserved for “open visitation,” most candidates mingled throughout the evening.
The Wise County Republican Party is planning a debate for Feb. 10. Read the Messenger for more information on the time and location.