Candidates gear up for debate

The Student Government Association will be hosting a debate for the three candidates running for mayor of the city of Florence April 16 at 6 p.m. in the GUC Performance Center.

The three candidates, License Commissioner Mickey Haddock, police Chief Rick Singleton and Billy Ray Simpson, will all be in attendance. The debate will give these candidates the chance to highlight their platforms with members of both the UNA community and city of Florence.

The debate will be the first of its kind to be held on campus and will hopefully produce a good turnout, said SGA President Ralph Akalonu.

Singleton is also looking for a good turnout among students and community members.

“This will be the first real forum for the candidates to address the constituents,” Singleton said. “I really believe that there will be a good response from the university and the community at large.”

Becoming more involved with the community is something that Akalonu said he hopes to achieve with the forum.

“As the university grows, events like these ensure that we become more involved not just in ourselves, but with the city, too,” Akalonu said.

Simpson said he feels that involving UNA in the community is crucial.

“I consider UNA a vital and valuable part of our community and city,” Simpson said. “Our young folks need something they can relate to. This will be very educational to them and will give them a chance to take part in their city.”

Addressing the concerns of the community is something that Haddock is looking forward to.

“I’m anxious to answer some of the questions that come up,” Haddock said. “I think it’s important to inform voters and the public of who you are and what you stand for. I love the city of Florence, and UNA is one of our major assets.”

Sydney Threet, secretary of community involvement on the president’s cabinet, has been heading up the planning and execution of this event alongside Akalonu and SGA Treasurer Elect Laura Giles.

“My role is to tie UNA and the city of Florence together,” Threet said. “This has been my biggest project this year, and I feel that it will be beneficial for both UNA and the community.”

The debate will feature a set of questions from a three-person panel, followed by questions submitted from audience members, students and members of the community. Individuals are encouraged to submit their questions anonymously online through OrgSync or on the Facebook event page.

“People who are concerned should ask questions, so we can get them the answers they are looking for,” Threet said.

Dr. Bill Huddleston, professor of communications, will moderate the debate. The panelists have not yet been selected, but Akalonu and Threet are working to secure individuals right for the job.

“We want our panel to consist of one student voice, an administrator voice and a community member not affiliated with the university,” Akalonu said.