forum imageThe political spotlight was on education during the nonpartisan Gubernatorial Candidates’ Forum on Education held February 1. HudsonAlpha hosted the forum in partnership with The Huntsville Times, WHNT NEWS 19 and ETV. Eight of Alabama’s nine gubernatorial candidates participated in the debate, which was held at the Jackson Center on the Cummings Research Park Biotech Campus. 

“We decided to host this forum because education is central to our mission, and critically important to the entire state of Alabama,” said Carter Wells, director of external affairs for HudsonAlpha. “This was a way we could offer candidates an opportunity to speak directly to the people of North Alabama.”

Two Democrats, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham, and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, along with six Republicans, State Representative Dr. Robert Bentley, Tuscaloosa; former two-year College Chancellor Bradley Byrne; State Treasurer Kay Ivey; businessman Tim James; former Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Bill Johnson; and financial advisor James Potts answered questions.

The four-person panel included Dr. Neil Lamb, HudsonAlpha educational outreach director, Lisa Washington, WHNT News 19 anchor, Kevin Wendt, Huntsville Times editor, and Maura Bailey, a Grissom High School junior. 

Subjects included education budgets, the pros and cons of a state lottery, improving graduation rates, the possibility of charter schools and how to handle the PACT program.

The crowd was comprised of supporters from each campaign, a number of elected officials from Huntsville, Madison, Madison County, our state delegation in Montgomery, and others who are interested in the future of Alabama’s education programs.
 
WHNT televised much of the event live. It was also streamed on WHNT.com and AL.com. Please visit http://www.whnt.com/news/whnt-candidate-forum-explainer-2010,0,7920870.story and http://blog.al.com/breaking/2010/02/gubernatorial_forum_tonight_at.html for more coverage.