“We thought the interest in a debate between gubernatorial candidates Karl Dean and Bill Lee would be high,” said Rick Thomason, publisher of the Times News. “But the response to our announcement of the debate and the subsequent steady requests for tickets exceeded our expectations. That, we feel, is a testament to Northeast Tennessee’s importance in this election and in the overall political landscape of the entire state.”
Along with the Times News, the Johnson City Press is sponsoring the debate, which will be held at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center at Eastman. Presenting sponsors are the Eastman Foundation and Ballad Health, which jointly made it possible for the debate to be broadcast across the state.
Doors to the venue will open at 5:15 p.m. Doors to the auditorium will open at 5:45.
“We encourage attendees to arrive as early as possible,” Thomason said. “Every attendee will be screened with a metal detecting wand, so that will slow the entry process somewhat. There will be four ticket entrances and eight security screening stations to make entry as smooth as possible.”
To expedite entry, no bags will be allowed. Women are asked either to not carry a purse or to limit what they carry to a small purse or clutch. Anything not necessary should be left in the car or at home.
All attendees should be seated no later than 6:45. Times News staff will be on hand to direct those with VIP and media passes to the appropriate seating areas. Doors to the auditorium will be closed at 6:45 and pre-debate ceremonies will begin soon thereafter.
Promptly at 7, East Tennessee PBS will begin live broadcasting the event across the state. The debate will end at 8. Anyone who exits the auditorium after the doors are closed will not be allowed re-entry, even with a ticket or pass.
As a reminder, no signs will be allowed in the auditorium. After the initial introductions of the candidates, the audience is asked to refrain from applause until the end of the debate to allow for as many questions as possible. Attendees are also reminded that cheering, rallying, whistling, heckling and other disruptive behavior will not be allowed. Violators will be escorted from the auditorium and the building by security.
“The organizers and sponsors look forward to an informative debate that showcases the candidates and Northeast Tennessee,” Thomason said. “A lot of work by many, many people made this possible, so we are thrilled that tickets are gone and that we will have a great showing Tuesday evening.”
For those unable to attend, the debate will not only be broadcast on Tennessee PBS stations, but also streamed live on timesnews.net and johnsoncitypress.com.