There have been many, many forums so far, involving candidates for mayor and the various city council positions.
Almost all of them follow the same formula: opening statements, policy positions stated in response to generalized questions in specific subject areas like crime, education, economic development, than a standard vote-for-me close.
Retired businessman Lester Lit broke new ground at a League of Women Voters forum for District 9 candidates Monday night. Not only did Lit, a candidate for District 9, Position 3, criticize an opponent at length and by name, he used the entirety of his opening and closing statement time to do so.
Lit devoted his one-minute opening time to an attack on Reid Hedgepeth as lacking qualifications to serve. Then, flanked by fellow 9, 3 candidates Mary Wilder, Desi Franklin, and Boris Combest, Lit used the two-minute period allotted him for a closing statement to say this:
"...There really is an 800-pound gorilla in this room, and he's not here tonight. His name is Reid Hedgepeth, and I'm going to tell you right now, with the backing that young man has, he could very well win this election, and that upsets me. I'm mad as hell to think that he could, because we have four very qualified candidates on this panel here tonight, and I'd feel very good if any of the four could serve as your representative on the next city council. I would not feel too happy if Reid Hedgepeth serves as my representative on the City Council.
"He has been to no forums. He has been to no neighborhood associations. He is maintaining his campaign strictly with a hundred-thousand dollar budget on TV and slick mailers that he sends out, such as this one right here [brandishing a mailout flyer], which is -- this is not even a picture of Memphis -- this is Detroit that they're using pictures of to mislead you.... Y'all were nice enough to come out this evening to try to learn about the candidates. I think you need to go one step further and educate yourself about the missing candidate, the one that I'm afraid could steal this election because of financial backing that he has.
"I forgot to mention in my opening that not only has he never voted in a city council race in his life, he also made two separate donations to Rickey Peete two years after the last city election. So you do your homework. If you want to vote for one of us, you'll get a good council person. Let's not make any more mistakes. We've had enough mistakes. Let's not go down that road anymore."