Candidates forum set for Thursday
by Scott Reese Willey
Oct 08, 2008 | 2958 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Have questions on the state of Bee County’s economy?

Or the rising cost of city and county government?

Or how the county should spend its health care fund?

Or taxes? Surely you’ve got a question about the increase in city and county taxes.

Or schools? Beeville ISD is asking voters to approve a 6-cent tax rate hike to help fund pay raises for faculty and staff. What’s your thoughts on that?

Maybe you’re concerned about state and national issues.

The Bee County Chamber of Commerce will give you the opportunity to ask candidates for public office to answer those questions and more on Thursday.

The Public Affairs Council of the Bee County Chamber of Commerce will host a candidates forum in the Gertrude R. Jones Auditorium at Coastal Bend College on Thursday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m.

All declared candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot in Bee County, with the exception of candidates for the U.S. presidency, have been invited to address the audience.

Candidates who have committed to participating in the forum are Eddie Zamora, challenger for U.S. Congressional District 15; Judge Louis Bruni, challenger for Texas State Senate District 21; incumbent Dori Contreras Garza for the 13th Court of Appeals; and incumbent Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, Texas House of Representatives District 35.

In local races, Bee County Sheriff Carlos Carrizales and candidates for Bee County Tax Assessor-Collector, Vicente Barrera and Linda Bridge, have committed to participating. In the Bee County Commissioner Precinct 3 contest, both incumbent Eloy Rodriguez and challenger Andrea Gibbud will speak, as will District Attorney Martha Warner.

The task force is still waiting for confirmation from Bee County Precinct 1 Commissioner Carlos Salazar. Candidates who were invited but chose not to participate are U.S. Congressman Ruben Hinojosa and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini. Other candidates have not replied to invitations.

In the format, each of the candidates in uncontested races will be given time to make a statement to the audience. The candidates in contested races will also make statements and then will be asked no less than two questions each. The questions will be drafted by the public affairs council.

Bee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Stuart said, “This is the only opportunity before the election that the community will have to evaluate candidates in one place, on one stage.”

Stuart commended the volunteer task force for their work in assuring that candidate forums are completely impartial.

The public affairs council is the organization’s primary voice in advocating for chamber members on governmental affairs issues. The council is primarily responsible for voicing the concerns and positions of the business community to local and state elected officials and government agencies.

The council also is responsible for creating and implementing legislative agenda; hosting candidates forums; and driving “getting out the vote” campaigns during election years. The council keeps chamber members apprised of important governmental issues that have a foreseeable impact on the community.

Bee County Chamber of Commerce is a business organization with a mission to “lead the business community in the progressive development and stimulation of economic growth and opportunity and assist in the generation of new commerce.” To that end, the chamber works to expose its members and the community to public policy issues and candidates that affect the local business climate.

“I strongly urge everyone, but particularly business people, to attend this forum,” said Bee County Chamber of Commerce Council Chair Tom Beasley. “This is a very important election and in order to make informed decisions about candidates, you have to know where they stand on issues. This forum is an opportunity to learn just that.”

Beasley also encouraged everyone to go to the polls on Nov. 4 or vote early, between Oct. 20 and 31.

For more information on the candidates forum or the local chamber of commerce, call (361) 358-3267 or email

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