Candidates for St. Tammany Parish Sheriff have been invited to the first scheduled debate of the fall election season, hosted by the good government advocacy group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany on Sept. 14.

The sheriff’s race is shaping up as one of the most hotly contested on the Oct. 24 ballot with four announced candidates.

The group issued its invitation Wednesday to incumbent Jack Strain, Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith, retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Jennifer Werther and retired U.S. Customs Officer Scott Illing.

The group is still developing the format of the debate, President Rick Franzo said in a letter to the candidates. A host panel will ask questions, but there will also be candidate to candidate interaction, he said.

“The rules of the debate will be tightly controlled as it is vital that voters have the opportunity to make an informed choice between the different paths envisioned for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office,’’ he said.

The debate will be held at the John Davis Center in Lacombe beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Concerned Citizens have held similar forums in past elections, including the district attorney race last fall and the coroner’s race in the spring.

Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter at @spagonesadvocat.