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Our View: Learn, then vote

It can be tough catching up with elected officials once they’re in office.

That’s why now is the perfect time to talk to them, before they get elected.

Each cycle, the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County hosts candidate forums for local races. They started this week, with Board of Supervisors Districts 3 and 4, followed by auditor-controller and Nevada City Council.

Next up will be clerk-recorder, state Assembly District 1 and assessor.

You might wonder: Why have these now? The election is June 7.

True, but that isn’t really far away when you consider that Nevada County voters will get their vote-by-mail ballots in early May.

That gives us a short window to meet the candidates, get educated and make informed choices when casting our ballots.

The argument has been made before that local elections are the most important. These are the leaders who are closest to the people they represent. They’re the ones assessing your property, working with state officials on the future of the Nevada County Courthouse and possibly deciding whether to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

The governor’s race, while perhaps more exciting, doesn’t have that local impact.

This makes these forums the perfect place to not only hear directly from the candidates during a Q&A, but to speak to them one on one. There’s plenty of great information that comes from the dais, as well as some stock answers they’ve planned for weeks, knowing certain questions will be asked.

Yes, we know most every candidate will expound on their virtues, explaining why they’re the most qualified, best educated, have lived here the longest, have the deepest roots and the best-behaved children.

But where are they on the issues they might not want to talk about? Do they have some good ideas about how to deal with issues like housing and homelessness? What about downtown Nevada City or Grass Valley parking? And can they tell us how they’re going to pay for all this?

You could argue some people will try to insert gotcha questions at the forums, attempting to catch candidates off guard and embarrass them. Alternatively, you might consider the value in how a candidate comports himself or herself when fielding an unexpected question and might not have the ready answer.

We all are human, after all.

This is the chance to make the cliché come to life — shake their hands and look them in the eye. Write down your questions and get them in the queue to be answered. Chances are, someone else wants to ask the same one.

The local league now has held forums for the District 3 and 4 supervisor seats, auditor-controller and Nevada City Council. We’ll have a week break, then start May with clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, state Assembly District 1 and assessor.

And then, the following week, people will start getting their ballots in the mail.

There are plenty of ways to learn about the candidates. These forums are just one. If you missed them, recordings can be found here: nevadacountymedia.org/government-channel.

You can also learn more about the candidates in the pages of The Union. Additionally, some candidates hold meet-and-greets. Others you’ll spot at the grocery store or while at a weekend event.

A local official once said that the supervisor job is one of the highest elected positions someone can hold and still be close enough to the people that you could run into them on the street. That’s also true for Nevada City Council, clerk-recorder, and all the local offices up for grabs on June 7.

All of us should take the time to talk to the candidates, learn who they are and what they stand for, so we can make the best decision on who should have that job.

And then, when the time comes, vote.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

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