Representatives of state and local Republican and Democratic parties will discuss their platforms at a Times-Enterprise citizens meeting tonight.
Political party representatives will meet on the Thomasville Municipal Auditorium stage, 144 E. Jackson St., at 7 p.m.
"I'm not aware of anything like this ever happening here or anywhere else. I believe it speaks well about our local parties that they are willing to sit together in a public forum and discuss the issues of the day. The political divide in this nation will never heal until both sides start talking to each other,” said Mark Lastinger, Times-Enterprise managing editor.
"It's got to start somewhere, so why not here?” asked Lastinger, who will be the event moderator.
At 6:30 p.m., political party representatives will greet spectators and distribute literature as those attending make their way into the auditorium.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the Rev. Arthur L. Jones III, a local Democratic party official, will offer a prayer, followed by the pledge of allegiance to the flag and opening remarks by Lastinger.
At 7:10, Republicans will make a presentation and introduce officers, followed by Democrats at 7:25.
Four members of each delegation will take the stage at 7:40 for questions from the audience.
The meeting is expected to last approximately 90 minutes.
Republican representatives will be local GOP party Chairman Mike Baugh, Vivian Childs, Leo Smith and Brandon Phillips.
Democratic representatives are Jones, Beth Grant, local party Chairman Marty Haythorn and the Rev. Terry Scott.
Jones, a Thomasville resident and minister, is a Times-Enterprise columnist and contributor.
Childs is Eighth Congressional District chairman for the Georgia GOP. She served as a delegate surrogate at the 2012 Republican National Convention and delivered the first motion from the floor during the convention.
Childs ministers with her husband at a Warner Robins church.
Smith, a Smyrna resident, works with the Republican National Committee and the Georgia Republican Party as Georgia State Director. He also serves as District 13 state committeeman and vice chairman for public policy for the Georgia Black Republican Council.
Brandon Phillips is managing partner at Wiregrass Strategy Group, a political and public affairs firm based in Tallahassee, Fla., that works for conservative and non-partisan campaigns and causes throughout the Southeast.
He has more than a decade of campaign and election experience at all levels, including several legislative races for state House and Senate, Congress, U.S. Senate, judicial and a half dozen campaigns for statewide office.
Grant is a retired mental health counselor and educator. She is involved with many nature-related activities, most notably leadership in conservation of Lost Creek Forest in Thomas County and Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve in Grady County.
She is a member and active volunteer with Birdsong Nature Center, Tallahassee chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society and Audubon Society, Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society, Georgia Botanical Society and Southwest Georgia Conservancy.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226=2400, ext. 1820.