IN OUR VIEWPOINT | Record to hold forum; informed voting matters

By their nature, newspapers have a singleness of purpose. They exist to provide the communities they serve with needed information.

Yes, they are businesses. And yes, they need revenue to survive. But their ultimate goal is to inform readers about what’s happening in their neighborhoods, why that pesky pothole hasn’t been fixed in years and what decisions are being made that will affect peoples’ pocketbooks.

The conveyance of such information is usually limited to written reports in print and online publications, but newspapers shouldn’t allow themselves to be pigeonholed by traditional mediums.

There are other ways to inform, and the South Whidbey Record, in partnership with the Clinton Progressive Association, will take such a step next month by sponsoring a political forum.

Such events are hardly a revolutionary concept. Indeed, a handful of forums are held across Whidbey Island every year by multiple groups and organizations.

But this will be the first held by The Record, or any island newspaper, in recent years. The newspaper is a community leader and it’s time we step up to the plate and take part in this vital form of voter education.

The forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at the Clinton Community Hall, 6411 S. Central Ave. The two-hour event will host six candidates from three contested races on South Whidbey along with advocates of Whidbey General Hospital’s bond proposal.

Attending, in alphabetical order, are: Langley residents Betty Bond and Rocco Gianni for Position 5 on the South Whidbey School Board; Clinton residents Curt Gordon and Ed Jenkins for Position 3 on the Port of South Whidbey’s Board of Commissioners; and Freeland residents Captn Blynd and Bob Hezel for Position 3 on the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s Board of Commissioners.

Friends of Whidbey General Hospital will also be attending to speak in support of the hospital’s $50 million bond measure to expand the Coupeville facility. Attempts to identify organized opposition to speak against the measure were unsuccessful, but an invitation remains open.

The League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island will also hold a forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. Candidates from uncontested Langley races, including Mayor Fred McCarthy, will be participating.

The Freeland Chamber of Commerce will also hold a forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Useless Bay Golf and Country Club.

Political forums matter. They don’t just give voters the chance to meet the candidates, they provide a glimpse into how these potential leaders feel about important issues and how they respond to tough questions – without the benefit of having tailored a response beforehand.

Attend your local forums. Learn about the candidates and vote. The choice you make will affect us all.

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