This year’s Bartow city election promises to be one of the most interesting in years.
Four candidates are seeking one of the at-large posts on the commission. The incumbent, Wayne Lewis, is not seeking another term.
Lewis has served the citizens well. He listens to his constituents, and to city employees, and has stood his ground in opposition to the commission majority when he differed with them.
We hope that his successor will emulate his example of independence.
Seeking to follow Lewis on the commission are:
• Gerald Cochran, a frequent and vocal critic of city government. He has run many times, and never won. But city politics would be far less interesting without his voice.
• Joe DeLegge, a former Bartow city manager who resigned in the face of a dismissal vote after a consultant’s report was highly critical of his management style. He has an insider’s knowledge of city government.
• Trish Pfeiffer, who has an impressive resumé of civic activities and has become increasingly vocal in city government circles.
• James Slaughter, the only true newcomer to city politics. He has been active in veterans’ organizations and activities.
The Democrat’s editorial board will interview all four of them as it considers making its recommendation to the voters.
Next Tuesday night, voters will have a unique opportunity to size up the candidates for themselves. All four have agreed to participate in a two-hour forum at the Bartow Civic Center, starting at 6 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Bartow Chamber of Commerce and this newspaper.
Each candidate will give a brief opening statement, then will respond to questions submitted in writing by the audience. Each will make a brief closing statement at the end of the forum.
Sometimes such forums are well attended, sometimes not. We suspect — and hope — that given the variety of backgrounds of the four candidates and the strength of their personalities, this forum will be one of the better attended ones.
Whether you haven’t decided whom to vote for and want to hear what each candidate has to say, or just want to see if your initial decision is reinforced by what is said at the forum, we encourage you to attend.
We don’t think you will be bored.