With city primary elections only a week away, not even the first candidates forum could compete with a matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the annual Super Bowl game.
The forum which drew more than 10 candidates, including two for mayor, was canceled shortly after 6 p.m. due to low student turnout.
Jonathan Quarles, an NAACP official, said he and Student Government Association President Andre Hammel set the date during the summer and did not realize it would conflict with the annual game.
Despite the sudden cancellation, many candidates said they were not disappointed and agreed to attend the rescheduled forum.
“I know how difficult it is to turnout students for political events,” said Andrew Gillum, a candidate for city commission seat 2 and the immediate past SGA president.
“This is probably the most direct way for students to learn more about the candidates but unfortunately, the candidates didn’t get to present their platforms tonight.”
Anthony “Dr. V.” Viegbesie, a candidate for city commission seat 3 and an adjunct professor, said he did not expect a large number of students to attend the forum at the same time of the football game.
“Coming here, the roads were as empty as Christmas Day. Everyone is watching the Superbowl,” Viegbesie said. “Students are human too.”
However, Dot Inman-Johnson, a candidate for city commission seat 1, said she would have like to address students despite low numbers.
“It didn’t matter if there were only five or 10 students here. I wanted to hear their concerns and address them,” Inman-Johnson. “I didn’t expect a huge turnout, but I was a little disappointed.”
Quarles said the forum would be rescheduled at a later date.
“We haven’t figured out a date yet,” he said. “But we came up with the idea to have a forum because a lot of students are not educated on local politics and usually have a low turnout compared to national elections. All the candidate know how we perform and potentially influence the elections.”