Rio Theatre, Light and Champion hosting Shelby County candidate forum

Forum is free and open to public & all Shelby County candidates - set for Feb. 6

A political forum featuring candidates on the March 3 primary election ballot from Shelby County will be the focus of a free event open to the public on Thursday, Feb. 6.

The event will be held at the Rio Theatre beginning at 6 p.m., featuring opportunities for all county candidates to address the audience, according to Mike Elswick, editor and publisher of The Light and Champion. The newspaper is sponsoring and hosting the event in conjunction with Mike and Nita Adkison, owners of the Rio Theatre.

“Each candidate will be provided a timed opportunity to introduce themselves and tell a little about why they are running and what they hope to achieve if elected,” Elswick said. The main focus will be on the two county-wide contested races, that for Shelby County District Attorney and Shelby County Sheriff, he said.

Each candidate in those races will be provided a time to speak, followed by a question and answer session. Running for district attorney are incumbent Stephen Shires and Karren Price.

Five candidates by vying for the Shelby County Sheriff's position left open with the retirement of Sheriff Willis Blackwell. They include Derek Barbee, Joey Hudnall, Newton Johnson, Tanner Peace and Kevin Windham.

“With the wide interest shown by the number of contested local races in the March primary, we hope the forum will provide an opportunity for voters to better get to know the candidates, their background and their expectations for office if elected,” Elswick said.

After the initial focus on those county-wide races, expected to last approximately an hour and 15 minutes, the stage will be opened up to other candidates with a focus on those in contested races, he said.

The Rio Theatre has seating for about 380 people.

“We appreciate the hospitality of Mike and Nita Adkison for providing the theater as a venue for the event,” Elswick said. While the Rio's concession stand will be open and guests will be allowed to snack during the forum, no outside food or beverages are allowed.

He said each candidate should be receiving an invitation to participate at addresses they provided when filing for office.

“We are asking those candidates planning to attend and participate to let us know by noon on Friday, Jan. 31, so a final agenda can be prepared,” Elswick said. They may call The Light and Champion office at (936) 598-3377; or email their intentions to:

Other contested races include those for county commissioners in precincts one and three.

Candidates whose names will appear on the ballot in the March primary elections, include:

• District Attorney — Stephen Shires (I) and Karren Price

• County Attorney — Gary Rholes (I)

• County Tax Assessor-Collector — Debora Riley (i)

• Sheriff — Newton Johnson Jr.; Tanner Peace; Derek Barbee; Joey Hudnall and Kevin W. Windham.

• Pct. 1 County Commissioner — Roscoe McSwain (I) and Donnie Borders

• Pct. 3 County Commissioner — David Cheatwood, Stevie Smith and Willis Blackwell

• Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace — Sean Permenter, Darrell Alford, Billy D. Barnett, Don Jones and Melba Rodgers

• Pct. 1 Constable — Zach Warr (i) and Ricky King

• Pct. 2 Constable — Jamie Hagler (I) and Randy Dean

• Pct. 3 Constable — Roy Cheatwood (i)

• Pct. 4 Constable — Jake Metcalf (i) and Bryan Gray

• Pct. 5 Constable — Josh Tipton and Robert Hairgrove (i)

• County Democrat Party Chair — Patsy Handy (i)

• County Republican Party Chair — Leigh Porterfield (i)

Also filing for re-election has been incumbent District 9 State Rep. Chris Paddie, (R-Marshall), who is being challenged in the March primary by Mark Williams of Carthage. Both will be invited to attend.

For questions on the forum, please contact Elswick at The Light and Champion office, (936) 598-3377; or via email at:

The Light and Champion

137 San Augustine St.
Center TX 75935