EDITORIAL: Blair forum shows importance of candidate-public interaction

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In a little over a week, voters will hit the polls.
The process of voting for the candidate of our choice is something that makes our country a special and unique place to live. 
Aspects of the election process that gives the opportunity for voters to think for themselves are debates and forums. We see the bright lights and television cameras for the high-profile debates but these ever-important events happen locally as well.
The Blair Public Library and Technology Center was the location for such an exercise Wednesday night, as the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Media Group hosted a forum for the Blair Mayor, City Council and District 16 candidates. 
The response by both candidates and the public showed why these are so important in the voting process. 
All six candidates appeared at the forum and answered questions over the nearly-two hour event. Questions included goals and ambitions of the candidates, as well as questions regarding specific issues local residents and Nebraskans as a whole are facing.
The public responded to the chance to hear from the candidates in one place, with more than 100 people showing up to listen. 
First, hats off to the public for the response to not only attend the forum, but submit questions ahead of time. The interest in the forum should reflect an engaged voter base in November. 
Second, the candidates should be commended for appearing and answering a wide-array of questions. Their participation is important for two main reasons. 
First, it gives an air of transparency and shows a candidate’s willingness to meet the public and express to them face-to-face their intentions for running for office. Second, it gives the public a chance to put faces to the media profiles, yard signs and advertisements. It’s one thing to read words on paper, but it’s another to hear a voice speak the words. 
Additionally, the candidates should be commended for the civility with which each one answered questions. At no point in the forum did one candidate answer a question by attacking the opposition's point of view. Questions were answered with well thought out and measured responses free of condescending tones that have become the norm in more national debates.
Overall, the Blair forum was a positive lead-in to the General Election on Nov. 8 and showed that the ballot does not need a presidential or high profile election to draw attraction to the polls. 

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