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An Echo Press Editorial: Seize an opportunity this election

With school back in session and fall in the air, people's thoughts are finally turning to an exciting topic. No, not football. Politics.

Yes, we know. The political season has a way of bringing out the worst in people. They become argumentative, convinced their political party holds all the answers while a vote for some candidates will surely lead the state or country to everlasting ruin. (Have you seen some of the TV ads lately?)

Or some people just tune out. They're fed up with the process, the name calling and they don't think their vote or opinion matters.

The two approaches — close-minded smugness or flat-out disinterest — don't accomplish anything. And then, when nothing changes, the cycle repeats. One party blames and attacks the other party while everyday citizens lose interest.

Try something else: Involvement. It can start at the local city, school, county and state levels. Get engaged in the process. Learn about the candidates. Know the issues. Go to candidate forums. Ask questions. And, of course, read the newspaper.

The Echo Press will once again be printing a Voter's Guide to help readers make a more informed decision on Nov. 6. The newspaper will be sending out questionnaires for the following contested races:

Alexandria City Council

Ward 2 — Bob Kuhlman (incumbent), Roger Thalman

Douglas County Board

District 2 — Judy Backhaus, Tim Kalina

District 4 — Charlie Meyer (incumbent), Mike Woods

District 5 — Owen Miller (incumbent), Heather Larson

State Representative

District 8B — Mary Franson, R (incumbent), Gail Kulp, DFL

District 12A — Jeff Backer, R (incumbent), Murray Smart, DFL

District 12B — Paul Anderson, R (incumbent), Ben Schirmers, DFL

U.S. Representative

District 7 — Collin Peterson, DFL (incumbent), Dave Hughes, R

Here's where readers can get involved: Tell us what you'd like to know from the candidates. What issues matter the most to you? Maybe you want ask the county commissioner candidates what their ideas are for cutting taxes. Or how city council candidates would provide more things to do for young people. Or how those running for state representative would improve health care programs.

Take some time to think about issues that truly matter to you, the things that could swing your vote, and then send your questions to the newspaper at aedenloff@echopress.com or P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

We may use the questions in our Voter's Guide or bring them up at candidate forums this fall. Or, of course, you can contact the candidates as well and ask them. If ask a question respectfully, you should get a respectful response in return.

We'd also like to note that there more races going on this election than the ones we listed earlier. In addition to statewide races, there are contested mayoral races in Brandon, Evansville and Osakis; city council races in Carlos, Evansville, Garfield, Kensington, Miltona and Osakis; a supervisor race in Brandon Township; and school board races in Brandon-Evansville, Osakis

and Parkers Prairie.

There's still time to strike up a conversation with those who are running for office and learn about the candidates. The opportunity is there. The future quality of our government, at all levels, depends on how many citizens seize the chance.

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