Ballots for the Aug. 1 primary election will be mailed next week in Benton and Franklin counties, so now would be a great time to start thinking about who will get your vote.
Odd-year elections such as this one focus more on nonpartisan races for city councils and school boards. Without heavy involvement from the Democratic or Republican parties, campaigns for local offices are typically less intense than high-profile national and state races.
But when the campaigns are more subdued, it can be tougher for voters to figure out the differences between the candidates. Citizens need to work harder at figuring out which names to check on the ballot.
To help out with that task, the League of Women Voters of Benton and Franklin Counties has scheduled three forums this month to give people a chance to meet the first-round candidates. The primary election will whittle the field down to the top two vote-getters, who will then advance to the general election in November.
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The first event will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 11 at the HAPO Stage at John Dam Plaza in Richland.
Candidates for four Richland City Council positions will be questioned by a moderator, and if time allows, questions from the audience will be answered as well.
Having the forum outside is a novel idea, and we are pleased the League is giving it a try. The setting could provide more exposure for the forum, and possibly attract passersby who had not originally planned on attending.
Then again, it also could be too hot and turn some people away, but we hope there will be a strong turnout.
The next candidate forum sponsored by the League will be 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 17 at the Mid-Columbia Library on Union Street in Kennewick. Candidates vying for two different city council positions will be questioned in the same way as the Richland event.
Of particular interest will be a chance for people to see all six candidates running for the at-large post being vacated by Kennewick City Councilman Bob Parks.
The final forum will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 at the Pasco Police Regional Training Center, 204 Clark Street. It will feature candidates for two Pasco School Board and two Pasco City Council positions.
The League is doing the community a favor organizing these events. A common excuse by people who don’t vote is they didn’t know the issues or the candidates well enough to make a decision.
But why not do your homework ahead of time?
For people who cannot attend a forum in their city, we suggest looking online at the Benton or Franklin county election sites. Both include a list of candidates’ names that will be on the ballot, as well as their photos and biographies.
The Herald Editorial Board will not make political recommendations before the primary election. After the field is narrowed, we will interview candidates in certain races and give our opinion before the general election.
Elected officials serving at the municipal level have a direct effect on issues affecting our day-to-day lives. School boundaries, park maintenance, road repair, and property and sales tax issues all are decided by people running for local office.
This is not an election to skip. The League of Women Voters is providing a chance to get to know who is running for office so we can be informed before we vote.
Don’t pass it up.
The July 2 editorial should have said to enter DOI-2017-0002 in the search bar to comment on the Hanford National Reach Monument review.