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Gatlinburg-Pittman students host First Congressional candidate debate


SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – East Tennessee high school students organized and conducted a debate for the state’s 1st Congressional District on Thursday as election day nears.

There are more than a dozen candidates on the ballot in the District One race. Congressman Phil Roe announced he would not seek re-election earlier this year.

Republican voters during the Aug. 6 primary will choose from among 16 hopefuls looking to replace Roe.

Last night’s debate at the Ridge Outdoor Resort Conference Center in Sevierville was put on by students with Gatlinburg-Pittman High School with money raised going toward the nonprofit, Safe Space.

“I was sitting one night watching a zoom debate for Congressman Phil Roe’s seat and we looked and there had not been a formal debate done. I said, ‘Isabella, let’s do a formal debate,’” debate organizer Doug Justice said.

“I think that it’s extremely good for not only our nonprofit, of course, and a great thing to bring to the community, but also because we made this event mostly volunteered by high school students. We’re putting some experience into these people,” debate coordinator Isabella Gheesling said.

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