Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elections; Candidates Must Engage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elections; Candidates Must Engage

Article excerpt

As the election season gathers intensity across our community and state, so will the calls for citizens to take their right to vote seriously.

It's equally important during the upcoming elections that the candidates take one of their major responsibilities seriously, as well.

It is their responsibility to consistently participate in candidate forums and debates so that voters can thoroughly weigh their suitability for the offices they're pursuing.

It's essential that all candidates, from Republican Gov. Rick Scott and leading Democratic gubernatorial contender Charlie Crist to congressional and local office seekers, show a true commitment to discussing and defending their positions, perspectives and visions in free-flowing public forums.

It's the best way to give voters a genuine sense of who these candidates really are - and why they're really running for office.

A GOOD MODEL

Candidates should feel obliged to accept invitations to forums requiring them to directly interact with the public and respond to wide-ranging topics raised by voters.

One good model: A recent forum hosted by the University of North Florida that brought together most of Northeast Florida's congressional representatives, all of whom are up for re-election, and had the candidates largely answer questions submitted by the large audience.

By all accounts, the representatives embraced the chance to articulate their positions on important issues like the economy, health care and jobs. And the voters surely went away with more knowledge about the views of the congressional representatives, as well as getting to observe the temperament and personal style of each legislator.

All of that plays a valuable role in helping voters make better informed decisions about candidates during election season.

The candidates must play their part in that process. …

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