A room full of lawmakers with influence in Raleigh and Washington, D.C. is a golden opportunity for a citizen to have their voice heard by those who can effect change.
Local citizens will have just that chance — to meet with the legislators and public officials who represent them, while sharing concerns, comments and questions — during a second annual town hall forum sponsored by the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce.
The “2014 Sampson Perspective” is slated for Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at Sampson Community College, Room O-140.
Leaders in attendance will include U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre, D-7th District; state Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; state Rep. Larry Bell, D-Sampson; and state Rep. William Brisson, D-Bladen. Sen. Richard Burr’s representative Janet Bradbury will also be present, as will Sampson County manager Ed Causey and City of Clinton manager Shawn Purvis.
Last year’s inaugural event saw a packed house with standing room only. Chamber officials hope for the same this year.
“We were very pleased with last year’s event,” said Chamber director Janna Bass. “We had over 100 attend last year. We got a great response from those in attendance. They appreciated the opportunity and the coordination that went into getting our leaders together, and panelists said they really enjoyed the event as well.”
The range of topics during such meetings is often across the spectrum, as “Perspective” was last year.
Bass said education, always a hot topic and one last year, will likely be the focal point of more discussion during the upcoming forum. Additionally, inquiries about tax credits for small businesses and historic preservation, as well as transportation and economic development topics, especially N.C. 24’s imminent expansion through Clinton and Sampson County, are likely to be broached.
Regardless of the question, the Chamber has sought to provide the venue for the answers.
“The Chamber strives to serve as the voice to our membership, both on a local level and a state level, but also on a national level,” Bass has said. “We thought this would be a great way not only for us to have the questions to ask those leaders when we got to Washington (on the Chamber’s annual visit), but also a way for them to ask our leaders directly. And from the leaders’ standpoint, we wanted them to know what the citizens and business owners had questions about.”
That was the goal with the first forum and continues to be the aim.
“Our goal is the same this year,” Bass commented. “We want to assist our members and the community and serve as their voice. It is a free event and no RSVP needed.”
Richard Hines, whose affiliation with the Chamber includes serving on its Washington, D.C. delegation, will serve as moderator for the event. He will open the forum at 5:30 p.m. Panelists will introduce themselves and the moderated portion, through which submitted questions are posed to the leaders, will follow. Bass said that is expected to last for about an hour, maybe more, with remaining time devoted to questions from the audience.
“If time permits, there will be 20 minutes of audience questions,” Bass said, noting the forum is expected to go until 7 p.m.
Submitting those questions is key as the moderated portion will make up the bulk of the Sept. 3 event.
“We would love to have everyone submit questions by this Friday (Aug. 22),” Bass noted. “We just encourage people to come out and ask those questions they need answers to.”
For more information about Sampson Perspective, call 910-592-6177 or visit clintonsampsonchamber.org. Questions can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-249-4616. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.