Of all the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped every waking minute of our lives, the most pressing concern of the moment is a fundamental one for the continued functioning of our democratic republic — voting and all that comes with it.
Everything from knocking on doors and distributing flyers to phone-banking has been altered by the coronavirus as communities opt for social media-driven campaigning and civil discourse.
As you’ll read in this week’s paper, I was honored to be invited to participate in the media panel in last Thursday’s Stafford Candidate Forum, along with reporters from the Houston Chronicle and the Fort Bend Independent. The event was handled professionally and safely by Carrie Schmidt and Paige Talbott of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Rehan Alimohammad, a partner at the Wong Fleming law firm in Sugar Land.
All attendees followed CDC protocols and embraced the virtual nature of the event, which was streamed on Facebook Live and televised on Stafford’s METV network. If you missed it, you can watch the forum in its entirety here. The candidates, from the school board to the city council and mayoral races, all fielded challenging and pertinent questions from the media panel and an audience that submitted queries on Facebook.
Opportunities to be safely socially distant and in the same room with many of the city’s public servants and community leaders are few and far between, so I certainly appreciated the respectful nature of the dialogue between the press and the candidates.
And there will be more of them forthcoming as this election season heats up.
From 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce will host a forum for the seven candidates running for three positions on the Fort Bend ISD school board. Incumbent Jason Burdine is facing a challenge from Angie Hanan for Position 1, and incumbent Kristin Tassin is opposite Shirley Rose-Gilliam on the ballot for Position 4. Allison Drew is the incumbent for Position 5, and she’ll face two challengers in Denetta R. Williams and Reggie Abraham.
At 6 p.m. Oct. 12, the chamber will host a Fort Bend County Sheriff Candidates Forum between Democrat Eric Fagan and Republican Trever Nehls.
The Fort Bend Pastors Association held a virtual town hall meeting of Missouri City mayoral and city council candidates on YouTube on Tuesday.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, the Missouri City candidates will gather virtually again, this time hosted by the Xi Kappa Lambda fraternity.
A friendly reminder: the voter registration deadline for this year’s election has passed, and just 26 days remain before Election Day, Nov. 3. Early voting begins next Tuesday, Oct. 13 and ends Oct. 30.
Do your part to help shape the future of your community by tuning in to these town halls and making an informed choice, whether you vote in-person or by mail. We’ll be doing our part to provide you with comprehensive coverage of the races that matter most to you across Fort Bend County, and as always, let us know what issues are affecting you.
Together, we can increase civic engagement and keep the wheels of democracy turning.