By Kathy L. Collins

As the primary and general election of 2016 draw nearer, registered voters in Hillsborough County have to start making decisions for whom they will cast their ballot. In an effort to aid in this decision making process, several local organizations will hold candidate forums. The forums are an opportunity for you, the voter, to meet the candidates for yourself and find out their position on a variety of issues.

First up is Bell Shoals Baptist Church’s 22nd Annual Candidate Forum on Friday, August 5 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Worship Center located at 2102 Bell Shoals Rd. in Brandon.

The forum is free and open to the public. The general public will have an opportunity to meet face to face in a meet and greet with the candidates from 5:30-6:45 p.m. At 7 p.m., all candidates will have approximately three minutes to speak to their plans and give reasons to vote for them.

According to Linda Townsend, a member of the Bell Shoals Church Issues Team and co-chair of the forum, “Nearly 90 candidates have been invited and we are receiving commitments to attend every day. All of the Judicial Candidates have agreed to attend.”

For more information, visit

On Wednesday, August 10 the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce will hold its 2016 Candidate Hob Nob at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre located at 4121 N. 50th St. in Tampa. This candidate forum will take place from 5-7:30 p.m.

Presale tickets are $15 and at the door, the cost is $20. Tickets get you craft beer sampling, gourmet pizzas, finger foods and time with the candidates.

“This is an opportunity for voters to meet the candidates face to face in an informal setting. You will also be able to participate in an informal straw poll,” said Christine Michaels, executive director of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.

At the Greater Brandon Chamber’s Candidate Hob Nob, you can meet candidates for local, state and even federal races all in one place. You can learn where the candidates stand on important issues.

For more information, visit or call 689-1221.

Whether you attend the Bell Shoals Candidate Forum or the Brandon Chamber’s Candidate Hob Nob, you have the opportunity to meet candidates, ask questions and become informed on all of the issues so that you can make your voting decisions.

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