Early voting began Wednesday in the Oct. 13 special election to fill the vacant 62nd District State House of Representatives seat.
Democratic nominee Ty Cobb II, Republican nominee Pat Marsh and Chris Brown, endorsed by the Constitution Party but listed on the ballot as an independent, are seeking the seat, which was made vacant when Ty Cobb II's brother Curt Cobb resigned in late June.
Although representatives of the Democratic and Republican house caucuses, on behalf of Ty Cobb II and Marsh, haven't yet been able to negotiate terms of a debate, Marsh accepted Brown's invitation Monday night to attend a forum which Brown organized at Bedford County Agriculture Center on Midland Road.
According to Ty Cobb's campaign manager, Rolland Hughes, Cobb, a driver for UPS, was still on his truck and could not make the event due to work commitments.
"He did not get off work until 8 p.m.," said Hughes.
The two candidates answered questions from voters, according to Brown.
"The people in Bedford County had a chance to show up and ask the questions," he told the Times-Gazette. Brown declined to estimate the attendance at the events, referring the question to T-G blogger Kelly Fernandez, who estimated that about 30 people attended.
Brown expressed some frustration that some who had been complaining about not having a chance to talk to the candidates did not attend.
"A lot of the ones who were griping were the ones who didn't attend," said Brown.
Brown said that jobs, illegal immigration and gun rights were among the issues discussed.
Marsh said he was pleased with the event.
"It was really good," he said. "They had it really set up nicely.
"It was a real civil discussion and debate, and some excellent questions were asked by the audience."
Marsh, like Brown, mentioned questions about guns and jobs, and said there were also questions about how to balance the state budget and what the candidates would do to stay in touch with their constituents if elected.
He said both he and Brown answered each question.
Hughes said that Cobb is going door-to-door and attending specific events and said dates are still being discussed for a three-candidate debate.
"Ty looks forward to debating Pat Marsh as well as Chris Brown," said Hughes.
Marsh said he is unaware of whatever discussions are taking place at the state level about a debate and wishes Cobb had chosen to attend Monday night's event.
Early voting continues through Oct. 8 in the basement of the county courthouse. Hours are 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
The 62nd District includes all of Bedford County, part of Lincoln County and a small corner of Rutherford County.