High school senior organizes 1st Congressional District Debate

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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The Primary Election for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District will occur August 6, 2020, and early voting has already begun.  One local student has decided to get involved and has recruited several of his friends and classmates to help.

In an effort to offer voters insight into the views and personalities of the candidates and do some good for SafeSpace of East Tennessee, Doug Justice, a rising Senior, has organized a bipartisan debate for candidates who seek to fill the seat that U.S. Representative Phil Roe will vacate at the end of the current congressional term. Representative Roe is the Incumbent and Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affair Committee and announced in early January that he would retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

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“I’ve always had an interest in politics, and I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time.  I am so appreciative of all of those who have helped make this event a reality.  I couldn’t have pulled this together with a lot of help from the community.  I am grateful to Jimbo and Mandy Conner of The Ridge, the folks at RBA Marketing and Junction 35 Spirits, and all the great people of Sevier County who have supported me in this effort.”

The event will take place at The Ridge Outdoor Resort Conference Center in Sevierville on July 30, 2020 at 7:00 p.m., and social distancing standards will be observed.  In-person attendees will be asked to wear masks and sanitize their hands upon entry, and temperatures will be taken.

Donations to SafeSpace, an organization serving battered women in East Tennessee will be accepted at   the event.  Van Wolfe, Executive Director of SafeSpace, says, “We are very grateful to be the recipient of the donations from this event especially since we have had to cancel our own fundraisers due to COVID-19.”

Questions, written by students throughout the District, will be asked by moderators retired Chief Justice Gary Wade and State Representative Dale Carr, and will be the same for all candidates. “I can’t tell you how much it means that Justice Wade and Representative Carr are supporting this debate,” says Justice, “They have both been a wealth of advice.  I am so appreciative of their advice and encouragement.”

The format of the debate will allow candidates three minutes for an opening statement. Each candidate will be given two minutes for response and one minute for rebuttal. At the end of the debate, each candidate will be given the opportunity to make a closing statement limited to two minutes.

Candidates confirmed to participate in the event include Jay Adkins, Richard Baker, John Clark, Steve Darden, State Rep. David HawkChuck MillerCarter QuillenBlair Walsingham, and Nichole Williams.  Justice notes that he is  awaiting confirmation from additional candidates and updated information can be found at tndebate.com as candidates confirm.

Due to current COVID-19 concerns, all Candidates have agreed to wear a mask and have a temperature check upon arrival. A candidate’s mask may be removed while on stage.

Information concerning the event can be found online at tndebate.com. The event will be aired LIVE on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tn1stcongressionaldistrictdebate, and reservations are also available those who wish to attend in person by emailing tndebate@gmail.com; a $15 donation to SafeSpace of East Tennessee is suggested.