When do you ever get the opportunity to ask a politician a question face-to-face outside the confines of a board meeting?

Maybe in the bread aisle at the grocery store, if you happen to be checking freshness dates on the loaves at the same time.

Short of that, it’s a little hard to have a meaningful conversation at the high school football game. Just when you’re in the middle of asking a question, the cheerleaders start a crowd chant and you find your arms raised as you sway to and fro and follow along, or the running back scampers down the sidelines toward the end zone and you just have to cheer.

So, how can you find out where your council rep stands on a proposed tax increase, or what the mayor believes should happen with trash collection? If you’re a patron of the arts, where do candidates stand on funding of the arts? If you feel strongly about the need for more affordable housing, are city officials taking the necessary action, or do we need new leaders with fresh ideas?

What about jobs and noise ordinances and sidewalks and infrastructure … are these things being addressed?

We get the opportunity to elect our city leaders Nov. 5. We can re-elect the current officeholders, if we believe our city is headed in the right direction. Or, if their opponents seem to have better ideas, we can vote for them.

But how do we know what any of them are thinking, what their ideas are, their priorities, and if they match ours?

We can’t rely on glossy fliers or scripted political ads to tell us what we need to know. We need face time.

Fortunately, the South Central Indiana League of Women Voters is making it easy for us to connect with candidates who want our votes.

Beginning Thursday, the League of Women Voters is hosting a series of candidate forums — in our own back yards. Charlestown, New Albany / Georgetown, Jeffersonville and Clarksville voters can hear directly from candidates in their communities.

The best part is that candidates get the chance to speak directly to us, and we can ask them questions about issues that are important to us. No filter. Just us, and them.

We encourage — really expect — candidates to participate. Not to face voters and your opponents is weak.

We hope — really believe — voters should attend to gain firsthand knowledge of those asking for your support.

An informed electorate ensures the integrity of our democratic process — and that voters elect people who can provide real leadership.

Details on the candidate forums are below this editorial. C’mon people — let’s talk!

South Central Indiana League of Women Voters candidate forums:

• Charlestown — 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at the gazebo on the square.

• New Albany / Georgetown — 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at Silver Street Park.

• Jeffersonville — 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at the gazebo at Warder Park (alternate site if there’s bad weather is 300 Spring).

• Clarksville — 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, tentatively planned for the Falls of the Ohio.

Format includes a stump speech by candidates followed by open dialogue.

The News and Tribune Editorial Board members are Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, and Assistant Editors Chris Morris and Jason Thomas.

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