Gahanna voters will have two more opportunities to meet their five mayoral candidates.

Gahanna voters will have two more opportunities to meet their five mayoral candidates.

Several people were turned away from an at-capacity April 19 candidates forum at the Gahanna Public Library.

The other candidate forums/debates will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at New Life Church, 3690 Stygler Road, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, at Family Fellowship Church of Christ, 4410 E. Johnstown Road.

The candidates are Beryl Anderson, Joseph Gergley, Ryan Jolley, Tom Kneeland and Jennifer Tisone Price. The top two vote-getters in the May 5 nonpartisan primary will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. Early voting began April 7.

Gahanna Progressives, a group of community-minded individuals who espouse progressive values, held the first candidates forum at the library April 19.

Mary Dixon, who moderated the forum, said she appreciates residents for their interest and enthusiasm.

"Many people were disappointed that they could not attend the forum due to fire regulations regarding occupancy limits," she said. "Never in our wildest dreams did the committee anticipate the turnout that we had. The room holds 70 people, and it was full by 3 p.m. We estimate at least another 30 people were turned away. ... Our goal was to create interest in this election, and to that extent, the goal was achieved."

She said she encourages residents to attend the other two candidates events.

"Reading a flier about a candidate and his/her position is very different than seeing and hearing the candidate in person," Dixon said. "The future of our city depends on informed voters."

Gahanna resident Lee Bailey said he and his wife timed their arrival at the April 19 forum just a few minutes before it started at 3:15 p.m.

"The lot was jammed, with forum attendees slowly circling, waiting for a space," Bailey said. "After finally getting a space in the lot, we entered the lobby to find a crowd of wet voters who had already been refused admission to the meeting room because it was as full as permitted by the fire marshal."

Bailey said he at first was pleased to see a number of young people he thought might be first-time voters.

"Then I asked them why they were all carrying notebooks, and it turned out, they had a assignment," he said. "They said every senior at Gahanna Lincoln High is to attend one of the forums and do a report on it. I don't know how big this senior class is, but I recall they usually have about 500 or more graduates. The library room holds maybe 75 people."

He said he plans to arrive early for the next event.

Although two other candidates forums and debates are scheduled, New Life Church pastor Brian Robertson said, he believes it's important to hold one event on the west side of the city.

"This also gives Gahanna residents a third opportunity to meet the candidates before the election in addition to the two forums already planned," Robertson wrote in a letter to the candidates.

The forum at the church will allow candidates to introduce themselves, followed by three questions that will be posed from a religious-, social- and faith-oriented point of view, but nothing concerning theology.

Robertson said the questions would revolve more around candidates' thoughts on issues and leadership from a faith perspective.

Each candidate also will submit a question to the host, with each candidate given the opportunity to answer each of the five questions. Answers will be 90 seconds each, with follow-up questions by the host.

Audience members also may submit written questions that will be vetted and then asked by the host.

New Life Church is celebrating its 30th year as part of the Gahanna community, with a weekly attendance of about 1,200.

The last opportunity to meet all of the candidates before casting a vote in the May 5 primary will be a debate at Family Fellowship Church of Christ, 4410 E. Johnstown Road.. It will be hosted and moderated by Sadicka White of the Servant Leadership Development Institute.

White retired as Gahanna's development director. She currently is chief of community services at the Ohio Development Services Agency.

She said it's important to help citizens ferret out the best candidates for the general election.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb announced in July 2014 that she wouldn't seek re-election.

She has served as the city's mayor for more than 12 years, after 10 years on Gahanna City Council. Her term will end Jan. 2, 2016.