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Roanoke City candidates prepare for Chamber Forum

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ROANOKE (WSLS)-- The Roanoke City Council and Mayoral elections are just a few months away. This year we're seeing a lot more candidates than we typically do, especially for the Roanoke City Council race.

There are at least nine candidates competing for three open city council seats, and two candidates running for mayor, Vice Mayor David Trinkle and City Councilman Sherman Lea.

The Roanoke Regional Camber is hosting the event on Thursday, February 11. Chamber President, Joyce Waugh, says the reason we may be seeing so many contenders is because everyone has their own idea about what's important to government. Several andidates say they want to provide more job opportunities for people in the area, as some of the regions largest employers are closing down or moving jobs to other locations.

"They want to throw their hat in the ring and bring their issues to the forefront and to the forum, to make the city and region an even better place to live and work," says Waugh.

But with so many candidates, political experts say we could see a weakening of political party structures.

"When you don't have a party structure, you don't have a shorthand way of saying 'This is what I believe as a democrat or republican,'" says political analyst, Dr. Ed Lynch. "You're just left with personalities, and people saying, 'I was there first and I said this before you did.' I think that might be how it goes on Thursday."

The big number of candidates is an issue that had the Presidential republican debates heating up early and could lead to some interesting conversation at Thursday's Roanoke Candidate Forum as well.

The forum is free to attend and kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with city council candidates. Then at 7:30 p.m. the candidates for mayor will speak.

If you can't make it, the entire event will be broadcast live on the Roanoke Chamber's website, RoanokeChamber.org

You can also send in your questions for candidates ahead of time, tweet them to @roanokechamber

Election day for the races is May 3.