NELDON: Leader Publications invites public to participate in election conversation

One month from today, many southwest Michigan residents will head to the polls. Many others will have already voted by mail, but will begin the wait to learn the next leaders of our government.

In the coming weeks, those who have not already voted should be doing all they can to research candidates on the ballot. We at Leader Publications are here to help.

Two weeks before the election, readers will receive a Voters’ Guide in their newspaper and Leader, filled with answered questionnaires from candidates on the November ballot. Candidates on the ballot who have not yet returned their questionnaires should do so immediately. Please email news@leaderpub.com if you need an electronic form, or to return your completed questionnaire.

In addition to the Voters’ Guide, Leader Publications will host a virtual candidate forum for the 78th District state representative race. Due to the pandemic, the event will be closed to the public, but will be streamed online at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, with help from the Niles District Library, On Base Productions and the League of Women Voters.

Thus far, incumbent Rep. Brad Paquette and democratic opponent Dan VandenHeede have confirmed their participation. Both are residents of Niles, former schoolteachers and active members of their community. We are excited to assist in facilitating what is sure to be a lively conversation, and help these candidates share their views with potential voters.

A third candidate, Andrew Warner, of Buchanan, has yet to RSVP, but is invited to participate.

During the event, each candidate will have the opportunity to introduce himself and a bit about his platform. They then will answer a series of questions and have a chance to rebut their opponents’ answers.

Though there will not be any readers physically in attendance, Leader Publications’ staff feels it is important to engage the public, and we invite you to participate in this forum. In addition to streaming the event online on Oct. 22, voters may submit questions to Leader Publications in advance of the forum. The questions will be reviewed by the League of Women Voters and Leader Publications, and as many questions as possible will be asked as time allows.

Questions may be shared by emailing me at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com, or mailing them to 217 N. 4th St., Niles, MI 49120.

More information about how and where to stream this event will be available as the event nears. Look for ads online and in our newspaper for more information.

It is our responsibility to facilitate conversation, inform the public and engage our readership. We are doing our part by publishing our Voters’ Guide, sharing your voices in letters to the editor and hosting this political forum. Now it’s your turn.

As voters, it is your responsibility to learn all you can about these candidates, make informed decisions and — most importantly — vote.

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