The Weirton Woman's Club, this past week, held what I personally hope to be the first of many local candidate forums leading up to the Nov. 6 general election.
More than a dozen candidates were in attendance, with races from state delegate and senator to state Supreme Court, governor and U.S. House represented by at least one candidate.
I personally want to thank the Woman's Club for putting this event together. I know not everything necessarily happened as had been hoped, but it takes a lot of work to put an event such as this together and I hope the community appreciates your effort.
Those in attendance, including civics students from two of our local high schools, got the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates.
Whether it is state Sen. Jack Yost or his challenger Pat McGeehan, U.S. Rep. David McKinley or his challenger Sue Thorn, Tish Chafin, who grew up in Weirton and is running for the state Supreme Court, or teacher Brian Savilla, who is running for West Virginia Secretary of State and has become known for driving his personal vehicle all over the state as part of his campaign efforts, it is important for voters to hear from and learn about every candidate on the ballot.
Events such as the candidate forum, meet and greets and debates are an integral part of every campaign, and I hope to not only see more taking place in the weeks ahead, but also see many of our residents in attendance at each one.
In addition to the candidates on stage, several individuals seeking local office also were in attendance, including incumbent Hancock County Commissioner Jeff Davis and challenger Mark Tetrault, Ralph Fletcher and Ronald Haggerty, both seeking the office of Hancock County sheriff, Scott Hicks, Michael Powell and Betty Bauer, all incumbent Hancock County magistrates seeking re-election, and Robin Snyder, who is running for re-election as Brooke County magistrate.
I hope everyone who attended the event took some time to speak with them and learn about their campaigns as well.
The decisions by each person elected on Nov. 6, no matter what race or level of government, will have some type of impact on our lives.
There are bound to be a lot of campaign slogans and promises made, with a variety of claims by each candidate, political party or campaign backers on how everyone will handle a situation. There's also bound to be similar claims as to why the opponent can do absolutely nothing good for the country, no matter what party affiliation they may have.
It is important, therefore, for all of us to take our time in the next several weeks to listen to what each person is saying, read as much as you possibly can about their messages, as well as their past actions to make certain we are as informed as possible before we step up to that voting booth in early November.
There are many decisions voters will need to make leading up to the election.
What topics are important to you? Where do you want to see your town, county, state and nation go in the next four years?
Do you feel the candidates have some good ideas for our future?
What candidates do feel most reflect your personal thoughts and beliefs?
Whether we vote on election day or as part of an early voting period, these are things all of us must eventually consider.
Candidate events are one of the many ways we can help ourselves to find these answers.
The election will be here before we know it.
In the past, many area organizations have held candidate events or debates as a way for residents to learn more.
I hope there are other opportunities in our communities, and I hope our residents take the time to attend at least one of them.
It's too bad the debate between Sen. Joe Manchin and challenger John Raese on Oct. 10 had to be canceled, because I'm sure we all could have learned something from it.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to take a little bit of time each week and try to educate yourselves on the candidates on this year's ballot.
Read, listen and discover all you can about each man or woman running for office.
This, like every election, has the potential to change the future of our world for the better or worse and each vote really can make a difference.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)