Local business organizations join forces to provide bigger, better campaign forum

Special to The Log

Local chamber members, builders and Realtors are joining together to help ensure voters are prepared as the 2014 election approaches.

The Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors announce the 2014 Campaign Forum July 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium in Fort Walton Beach.

“We all need to be informed and make the best decision when voting — and I can think of no better way than to attend this forum where we will hear from the candidates directly,” said Tricia Brunson, Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

The forum will invite all candidates running for Okaloosa County Commission, Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court and Okaloosa County School Board to participate.  

“In my opinion, the local elections are more important than regional or even national, as the decisions made by those elected will influence almost all aspects of our business and personal lives,” said Ted Corcoran, president and CEO of The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. “Thus the importance of getting to know which candidates you feel will truly represent our community best. Therefore instead of just reading their campaign signs, we have found the forums to be a great way to truly get to know the candidates. And by combining the efforts of several business organizations of Okaloosa County — we hope for more promotion of the forum — and thus more people attending. Plus, it’s much fairer for the candidates who don’t have to go to a bunch of smaller forums,”  

This is the first time the organizations have partnered together to provide the campaign forums, rather than hosting individual forums. During the forum, candidates will be given one minute to make opening remarks and a one-minute closing. Each candidate will also be asked several predetermined questions. Unopposed candidates will be given the opportunity to speak to constituents for five minutes. Time will also be offered to candidates seeking election for state offices.

“We are thrilled to partner with these exceptional organizations,” said Ed Smith, president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “This will provide an outstanding opportunity for our community to become more informed before Election Day.”

The organizations are confident the forum will help members of their communities make informed decisions on Election Day Aug. 26. 

“Approximately every two years we, the people of Okaloosa County, have the opportunity to vote for several positions of elected officials that will be tasked with guiding the future of our county,” said Felix Beukenkamp, BIA governmental affairs chairman. “The BIA encourages you to attend this forum; learn about these candidates and understand their character.”