Voters get a chance to meet the candidates

Dozens of candidates for elected office had a chance to tell Mecklenburg County residents why they should be put in office at two forums held in uptown.

The first featured a candidates meet and greet, and panel discussion on politics and the media. Later in the evening, the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg held a candidates forum.

The events capped off a whirlwind day in the Queen City for anyone interested in politics, including a rally with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

In addition, civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared at a northeast Charlotte church to encourage people to register to vote.

The first stop for many candidates on Sunday was the Levine Museum of the New South.

There, organizers of the event “Your Voice. Your Vote” aimed to help make the public more aware about candidates running for local and statewide offices – races they said are often overshadowed by the presidential and other national contests.

Among those speaking at the non-partisan event were candidates for county commissioners, state legislative and judicial seats and democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan.

The event was sponsored by the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists – Charlotte and Generation Engage, a group that aims to boost involvement of young adults in politics.

Sunday evening, the Black Political Caucus held its traditional forum for candidates seeking office. As with the journalist' program, the event drew candidates seeking a variety of offices, including 18 candidates for district judge and the court of appeals.

For more than three hours, about 50 hopefuls introduced themselves to a crowd gathered at Little Rock AME Zion Church uptown, then fielded questions on topics like the economy, the judicial system and the candidates' top goals for office.

Incumbents touted their experience and past accomplishments while in office, while their challengers pledged to bring change and to be more responsive to public needs.

The Black Political Caucus will vote on endorsements next weekend.