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Paducah Mayoral Candidates Set To Face Off At NAACP Forum

City of Paducah

Three candidates vying to become Paducah’s next mayor will pitch their vision for the city at a candidate forum Thursday, September 24, hosted by the Paducah-McCracken County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Two candidates are slated to appear on the November 3 ballot for the city’s mayoralty, with a write-in candidate also seeking the job. Businessman George Bray and City Commissioner Richard Abraham emerged as the top two vote-getters in the June 23 primary, defeating incumbent Mayor Brandi Harless. Artist Dujuan Thomas is looking to win the race through write-in votes. 

J.W. Cleary is the president of Paducah’s NAACP chapter. He said a primary goal of the candidate forum is to raise awareness for the local races on the general election ballot. The mayoral forum comes after a debate for city commission candidates held before the June primary. 

“What tends to happen is, we’ve seen it before whereas especially during presidential years, people kind of forget about the local races and the local races is just as important as the national races,” Cleary said. 

Cleary said his organization is not allowed to endorse candidates, but will seek to register and engage voters before the election.

“We definitely want to see that the people get registered,” Cleary said. “Of course, it’s easy to get registered but trying to make sure that people get to the polls, that’s another situation.”

The NAACP is currently working on a project to register convicted felons with restored voting rights, as well as partnering with other community organizations to increase voter turnout.

“The way that we look at it right now in the African-American community, this is probably one of the most important races that we have, so we definitely want to see people registered,” Cleary said. 

Thursday’s candidate forum will be held in the Clemens Fine Arts Center on the campus of the West Kentucky Community and Technical College beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event is closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be livestreamed on the Paducah NAACP’s Facebook page as well as broadcast by WPSD Local 6 and Paducah Channel 2. WPSD’s Shamarria Morrison and Mike Mallory will moderate the event.

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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