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Newport News church hosts nonpartisan forum for mayor, city council candidates

Newport News residents expressed their concerns to the mayor and city council candidates before the November elections.
Credit: Angelo Vargas

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — On Monday, Reverend Dr. Earl C. Johnson, the interim pastor for the First Baptist Church Denbigh, held a different kind of service in his church. 

Johnson said it’s a unique way for Newport News residents to meet the mayor and city council candidates who are running in the November general election. Johnson emphasized at the forum that it is a nonpartisan event.

A good crowd filled the pews. A total of seven candidates came out to try and make their case to voters. 

The candidates included current city council members Dave Jenkins, Tina Vick and Phillip Jones, who are running for mayor. There were four candidates running for council member seats: Curtis Bethany, John Eley, Cleon Long, and Dr. Willard Maxwell.

“This is probably the first time for the First Baptist Church Denbigh to do this,” said Johnson.

Many of the candidates talked about change, from tackling gun violence to economic development and improving education.

Newport News residents came to address their concerns in their city.

“What ideas do you have about rectifying the effects of climate change,” said one Newport News resident.

“Denbigh looks bad as I've ever been here. Denbigh has not had this many dilapidated buildings just hanging around and it’s sad,” said another resident.

Johnson explained why this forum is important for Newport News residents

“What I want them to take away from this is the idea that they have met the candidates head-on,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the church staff plans to have another candidate forum in September or October before the elections.

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