Candidate Forum on July 7, Okaloosa County Commissioner and School Board candidates face off

The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, along with the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and Building Industry Association of Okaloosa/Walton County, will host an Okaloosa County Election Candidate Forum on July 7th at the FWB Auditorium.

For the past 20 years, the FWB Chamber has played a vital role in presenting all candidates for upcoming elections to the community prior to Election Day.

This year will be no different as the candidates for the upcoming Okaloosa County Commissioner District 2, School Board District 1, School Board District 3, and School Board District 5 all come together for a meet-and-greet and Q&A.

“A lot of folks have seen the names, they might see the signs, they might see advertisement, but they never have actually laid eyes on the candidate,” said Ted Corcoran, President/CEO of the FWB Chamber. “We always like to schedule a meet-and-greet time where that candidate could just say hello and meet residents.”

  • Following the meet-and-greet portion of the night, two selected moderators will ask the candidates a series of questions related to their campaign.

Corcoran knows that just like a national debate, having candidate forums at the local level is just as crucial.

👉 Importance of local candidate forums

“People don’t realize how important is it to know who you’re voting for,” said Corcoran. “Whether it’s for the school board or the county commission, there are only five individuals on the board. Three of those five people, both at the county commission level or at the school board level, could make a decision that could influence our entire county for 50 years.”

Corcoran says that having a chance to meet the candidates and learn a little bit about them before voting is very important.

“I think we had about a 78% turnout in Okaloosa County for the Presidential election,” he added. “For the 2020 Primary, we had 30% voter turnout.”

  • The 2020 Primary included voting for the Superintendent of School, County Commissioners and School Board Members.

“We give them the forum to hear the candidates and actually meet them, versus just basing their decision on social media and a sign in someone’s front yard,” said Corcoran.

It should come as no surprise that putting on Candidate Forums like the one on July 7th isn’t exactly a money-making event for the FWB Chamber. In fact, it doesn’t produce any money. The goal each election cycle is to break-even on the event costs.

“It’s part of our mission as a community development organization,” explained Corcoran. “We have the capabilities of setting up these Forums and the bandwidth to promote it. They are also unbiased and not tied to a specific political party.”

👥 Who is participating

For the July 7th Forum, every single candidate in the County Commissioner and School Board race has confirmed their attendance. Here’s who we have:

County Commissioner District 2

  • Matt Turpin ($73,067 raised)
  • Carolyn Ketchel (incumbent)($176,045 raised)
  • CareySue Beasley ($60,860 raised)

School Board District 1

  • Lamar White (incumbent) ($22,324 raised)
  • Jerry Buckman ($13,770 raised)

School Board District 3

  • Linda Evanchyk (incumbent)($9,600 raised)
  • Darrel Barnhill ($4,050 raised)

School Board District 5

  • Diane Kelley (incumbent)($4,500 raised)
  • Cara Marion ($3,000 raised)

📺 How to watch

Interested voters can choose to attend in-person or watch the livestream from Crestview Community Television. Here’s the breakdown of the evening:

  • 5:00PM – 5:30PM: Candidate Meet and Greet
  • 5:30PM: Welcome
  • 5:40PM – 6:40PM: Q&A with all Okaloosa County School Board Candidates Districts 1, 3, and 5
  • 6:45PM – 7:45PM (Approximate): Okaloosa County Commissioner Candidates District 2

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