The candidates for the Belleville mayoral seat agreed to a debate on March 26 at Lindenwood University-Belleville.
Incumbent Mayor Mark Eckert, Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden and Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore will respond to questions in a debate that will be streamed live at bnd.com
The debate is sponsored by Lindenwood University and the Belleville News-Democrat, and the moderator will be News-Democrat reporter Beth Hundsdorfer.
The event is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the university's auditorium at 2600 W. Main St. in Belleville.
The News-Democrat will ask in advance readers and the Lindenwood University community to contribute suggested questions for the candidates.
Information on how to submit questions, the debate format, tickets and other details will be released in March in the News-Democrat and bnd.com.
Jay Tebbe, News-Democrat publisher and president, said in a statement that choice is always good when voters are making such an important decision.
"This spring's election will give Belleville residents choice and clarity," Tebbe said. "This debate will offer voters a chance to be better informed about the three candidates, what they stand for and how they want to move Belleville forward."
Jerry Bladdick, vice president and chief academic officer of Lindenwood University-Belleville, said the university "is honored to partner with the BND to host the mayor debate. We are pleased that our auditorium facility is large enough to accommodate so many people who are spirited about the Belleville community."
The consolidated election April 9 will have the city's first three-way race for mayor since 1997. Eckert, of the Belleville Good Government party, has been mayor for two terms. Elmore and Hayden are independent candidates.
Jeffry Couch, the BND's editor and vice president, said the debate will be modeled after the successful 12th District Congressional debate held at Lindenwood University last fall.
"Our Lindenwood partners have a great auditorium -- perfect for this kind of event -- and we expect a large crowd because of the huge interest in the Belleville mayoral race," Couch said.
In October, GOP nominee Jason Plummer, Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw and Democratic nominee Bill Enyart sparred verbally at Lindenwood before nearly 600 spectators.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.