Teresa Lewis and Deborah Cochran won’t get much time to rest up from their strong showing in Tuesday’s Mount Airy mayoral primary, with a public debate between the two scheduled next week.
The debate will begin Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, according to Betty Ann Collins, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, the event’s sponsor.
“We know we’re going to have two candidates and we believe we’ll have two opinions,” Collins said of the free program being coordinated through the chamber’s Public Policy Division to help educate voters.
Lewis was the top finisher in Tuesday’s primary involving four people seeking to replace Jack Loftis when the veteran mayor steps down later this year. She took nearly 45 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 28 percent, setting up a head-to-head meeting between the two in the city’s Nov. 3 general election.
The chamber official said the debate will have a different format than a forum conducted at the playhouse on Sept. 29, in which candidates responded to a series of questions.
Collins envisions next week’s event as similar to presidential and other debates in which candidates will be able to rebut statements made by the other. “I’d like to have it a little more spirited” compared to the earlier forum, the chamber official said.
However, the exact format, including how the candidates will be positioned on the stage, had not been finalized at last report.
“We want it to be respectful of both candidates and we want it to be informative,” Collins said, adding that the debate is aimed at illuminating each candidate’s positions on a variety of topics and issues.
A large audience was on hand for the Sept. 29 gathering and organizers are hoping for a similar turnout Tuesday due to the importance of the mayor’s office to Mount Airy’s future, Collins said.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.