The state NAACP will sponsor a gubernatorial debate in Stamford on Friday that will bring together more than the usual pair of candidates. In addition to Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley, independent Tom Marsh will field take the stage. The event will be held in the Stamford High School auditorium at 7 p.m.

"It will cover education, health care and other issues that have been emphasized" this election season, said Jack Bryant, president of the NAACP's Stamford branch. The debate also will cover civil rights, he added, an issue that hasn't received much attention in previous debates.

Also making this debate unique is the inclusion of Marsh, the first selectman of Chester. His running mate for lieutenant governor is Cicero Booker, a Waterbury alderman and member of the Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP.

The debate is part of the NAACP's 45th Annual Conference being held Friday and Saturday. Moderators for the debate include Keith Kountz of WTNH-TV, Laurie Perez of Fox 61 and former Hartford Courant reporter Stan Simpson.

The conference also is attracting Connecticut's candidates for U.S. Senate. Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon will appear at a Meet the Candidates luncheon Saturday. The luncheon will also feature presentation of the Roy Wilkins Civil Rights Leadership Award to Johnnye Mae Britt, former president of the NAACP's Stamford branch, and Jacqueline Steiner, longtime secretary of the Norwalk branch. Several workshops will be held Saturday.

The debate will be at Stamford High School, 55 Strawberry Hill Ave. All other conference events will take place at the Holiday Inn, 700 E. Main St., Stamford.