Get informed this year

Published 9:17 pm Monday, October 1, 2012

With just under two weeks remaining to register to vote in the November elections, it’s time to get serious about learning more about the candidates running for elected office.

It’s hard to avoid the constant patter of ads for the people running at the top of the ticket. Since Virginia is a swing state, voters here are seeing and hearing a barrage of ads for and against President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The same is true for the Senate and House of Representatives races that will appear on Virginia ballots.

Of course, informed voters know there are many better ways to come to a decision about their preferred candidate than relying on the intentionally skewed ads of both parties.

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But those same voters often arrive at their polling places on Election Day only to vote for local offices based on the signs they have seen in neighbors’ yards or on the name recognition of various candidates.

In order to provide voters the best information possible and give candidates for mayor, City Council and School Board a way to make a case for your vote, the Suffolk News-Herald will run a series of stories about candidates for all of those races during the coming weeks. The main stories about candidates will be broken down by borough, with a different borough highlighted each Sunday between now and the election. That series will conclude Oct. 28 with profiles of the city’s three mayoral candidates.

Since the mayoral race is so important to Suffolk, the News-Herald also will sponsor a mayoral forum on Oct. 16 at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. That forum will be videotaped to air before the election on Charter Cable’s local public access channel. More information about the forum will be forthcoming, but we’d like to ask readers to begin thinking now about questions they’d like the candidates to answer. Send your questions to We’ll pick the best ones to supplement the ones we’re already planning to pose.

Four other forums for local candidates are also planned this month. The Chamber of Commerce will hold one Oct. 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center. The Education Association of Suffolk will hold one Oct. 18 at King’s Fork High School’s Black Box Theater. The Suffolk Branch of the NAACP will hold a breakfast for the candidates at the East Suffolk Recreation Center on Oct. 20. And the Hampton Roads Tea Party will hold a forum Oct. 25 in the auditorium of Nansemond River High School.

With so many opportunities to get to know the candidates, there should be no reason for people in Suffolk to arrive at the polls unaware of the local races or unsure of which candidates best represent their interests.