The Bristol chapter of the NAACP sponsored a public meet and greet event to allow the community to interact with some of the candidates running in the upcoming November election.
From the Republican party, State Rep. Whit Betts, Senator Henri Martin, and State Rep. Cara Pavalock-D’Amato, attended. From the Democratic party, State Rep. Chris Ziogas, Kevin Fuller, Allen Marko, and Christopher Wright, were in attendance.
President of the Bristol NAACP Lexie Mangum has been involved in the nonprofit organization since 1985.
“Our mission statement is to ensure the political, social, economic, and education of the advancement of all colored people, to make sure that there’s no racial discrimination,” said Mangum.
Mangum said this was third time the NAACP hosted a candidate meet and greet, and that they “always have a good turn out.” The NAACP has also previously held meet and greet events with mayoral candidates, as well as state-level officials. Mangum said it’s because, “We want to give the community the opportunity to know who they’re voting for, maybe help them decide who is the best candidate for the position they’re running for.”
Taking place on Monday, Oct. 1, at the Bristol Public Library, attendees were asked to submit questions for the candidates. Mangum said some of the recurring topics included tolls, recreational marijuana, taxes, infrastructure, and, “A lot of questions were about, ‘What happened to the money?’”
“The reason why I think it was important… to me, and for the organization is, we need more people to take voting more seriously,” said Mangum. “Make sure to vote, it’s your right to vote, it should be your responsibility to vote, and you should make it happen.”
Because they feel so strongly about getting people to the polls, the NAACP has been promoting the importance of voting. They have had tables set up for voter registration at the Mum Festival and the West End Association’s Rockwell Park Festival, and they have a team going throughout the community.
“We’re not pushing any candidate, we’re just trying to get people to the polls,” said Mangum.
An important part of this process is helping to educate the public about who is running.
“You don’t know what they [candidates] are going to do, so you need to take the time to find out what they’re all about,” said Mangum. “That’s one of the reasons why we have this meet and greet: get to know who you’re voting for, get to know your candidates, get to see what they’re all about.”
Part of why the NAACP is hoping to rally more voters, in Mangum’s opinion, is because of the “disconnect” between “the older generations and the younger generations,”.
“They are not passing down the importance of… voting… to take issues in city governments, state government, national government, they should take interest in it and they’re not passing it down,” said Mangum
“This is the time, please register, you’ve got the rest of the month to register, and be prepared to go to the polls and vote,” said Mangum. “You are a vital part of this community, this town, so let your voice be heard, and one of the best ways to let it be heard is through the voting system.”