Woodlands Online news editor co-moderates 2024 Primary Elections Candidate Forum
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Candidates from three hotly contested political Woodlands area races squared off at the recent 2024 Primary Elections Candidate Forum, which took place February 8 at the Jett Center in Shenandoah. The popular political event was produced in partnership between The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Advocacy Council, Community Impact - The Woodlands, and Woodlands Online.
Candidates for the offices of Texas State Representative - District 15, Montgomery County Commissioner - Precinct 3, and Montgomery County Sheriff took the stage in groups to be asked a series of questions by the co-moderators, Nicole Preston, general manager of Community Impact - The Woodlands, and Sean K. Thompson, news and content editor for Woodlands Online.
After an introduction by JJ Hollie, president and CEO of the Chamber, the first set of candidates took to their lecterns: for State Representative, incumbent Steve Toth and challenger Skeeter Hubert. The first rounds of questions from the moderators were timed responses from individual candidates speaking in turn. However, the second round was an open debate in the Lincoln Douglas format where both candidates gave their perspectives on posed questions, at which point things became spirited in discussing growth factors and how they affect business opportunities in The Woodlands, school responsibilities versus parents rights, and the border issue.
The first hour completed, challenger Ritch Wheeler, the sole candidate from the County Commissioner race who accepted his invitation to attend – incumbent James Noack held a campaign event elsewhere at the same time – took the podium and spent time answering a series of questions from the moderators in a shortened format, and then concluded his session by talking about his history as the former Mayor of Shenandoah, his questions about the recent Grogan’s Mill Shopping Center deal, and his presence at the event.
The final forum commenced when the three candidates for Montgomery County Sheriff – challengers Kenton Ford and Wesley Doolittle, and incumbent Rand Henderson – took their places on the stage. As with the forum for the State Representative candidates, the three men took turns answering individualized questions for several rounds.
For the next round of debate-style questions and answers, all three concurred on issues of fentanyl, the border, and the importance of trained men and women in the department. However, discussion intensified over certain topics, especially between Henderson – seeking a third term as Sheriff – and Doolittle – a former Texas Ranger – in regards to crime statistics, their reasons, and job responsibilities. Ford stressed his own long history with the Sheriff’s Office. When time was called, however, the three men shook hands and returned to their individual lives and campaigns.
More than 100 people attended the event, which was also shown virtually during a livestream on WoodlandsOnline.com. The three rounds of forums can be found here: https://www.woodlandsonline.com/vmps/videolisting.cfm?vdoid=6360.
“I’m extremely pleased at how this forum went,” said JJ Hollie afterwards. “It’s important for candidates to gather in an environment where they are asked direct questions and are expected to stand by their positions in front of a live audience and next to their opponents.”
Election Day for the primary elections is Tuesday, March 5, but early voting takes place from February 20 through March 1. Stay tuned to Woodlands Online for updates to this election season.