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The Wright Opinion - Be informed
Seth Wright.jpg

As a younger man, I was never really interested in local politics and political forums were not a place I was likely to be found. That held true until many years ago when Bill Zechman asked me to attend the Southern Standard and 91.3 WCPI political forum to serve as the timekeeper. It’s a duty I’ve performed at almost every local forum since.

My years of attending has taught me what a vital service the Standard and WCPI are providing. Voting is one of the most important things any American can do and, far too often, many voters are woefully uninformed about the people or issues they are voting on. Voting shouldn’t be a contest of name recognition or whose yard signs you see the most often on your way to the polls. Ideally, every voter should seek out information on the recipients of their votes and be able to make an informed decision about who they feel will best represent their interests. Sadly, many times, (especially in local races) information about candidates is hard to come by.

This is where the importance of what the Standard and WCPI offer really comes into focus. Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Warren County administrative building at 201 Locust Street will be the latest of our forums. Candidates for local offices as well as the state and federal elections Nov. 8 have been invited to participate. The public is encouraged to attend. Seating will be limited but the event will also be live-streamed on the Southern Standard’s Facebook page, broadcast on WCPI and aired on BLTV. This is a prime opportunity for voters to get to know more about the people asking for their votes. 

Over the years, I’ve found my voting decisions are almost always solidified as I walk out of the forum. Regardless of your criteria for who earns your vote, there is no shortage of factors on display to help you make your decision. Seeing the candidates in person in this setting can tell you a lot about them. Of course, what they say is important. You can quickly determine who does or doesn’t reflect your viewpoints. There are also many intangibles that can be factors in your decision making that the forum brings to light. 

You can observe how the candidates interact with the audience. You can see how they deal with their opponents. You can see how they handle tough questions or criticisms from their counterparts. You can see who keeps their poise. You can even watch how well they understand and respect the rules of the forum. Do they pay attention to the time limits placed on their responses or do they ignore the red light and ridiculously dainty bell (from my wedding day) that I use to try to signal it's time to stop talking? Perhaps most importantly, you can see which candidates deem the opportunity to address local voters as unworthy of their attendance.

The accessibility of our forum, both live and available for watching at your leisure, really removes any excuse for casting a vote without an informed opinion. I encourage all our readers to attend or watch. Maybe you won't hear me have to ding my little bell too often.

Standard managing editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191