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Our View: Public should attend candidate forum
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This week will provide Monroe and Green County residents a unique opportunity, which comes along only every few years.

On Thursday, candidates for city and county offices will be participating in a forum at 7 p.m. at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center. Candidates at the forum will be vying for one seat on the Green County Board of Supervisors, three seats on Monroe's Common Council and the office of mayor of Monroe, which will be decided in the April 6 election.

The forum will be hosted by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, and will feature questions submitted by the public. A review panel will open the questions prior to the debate and prepare a list of questions to be asked. All questions will be asked by the moderator and questions will remain anonymous.

Green County Board Supervisor Steve Stettler will face challenger Robert Gadow in the 18th District race, which is in Decatur township.

Incumbent Mark Coplien is being challenged by Michael Boyce in Ward 3, southeast Monroe. Incumbent Thurston Hanson will face challenger Louis Armstrong in Ward 7, downtown Monroe. Richard Thoman and Michael Rivers are vying for the open west-side seat in Ward 9. Two-term incumbent Mayor Ron Marsh will face two challengers, former Monroe mayor Bill Ross and Tyler Schultz.

While each public meeting this group of incumbents participates in contains a period of time for the public to ask questions the queries rarely have to do with an office holder's personal policy choices. In a forum setting, incumbents will be asked to answer questions about how they would handle a decision, and why they would make it. For example, should the City of Monroe raise its water rate to 29.5 percent instead of 16.1 percent?

Challengers on the other hand, with the exception of Ross, have the opportunity to present ideas to the public that are not based on a record from previously holding public office.

We encourage the public to attend the forum to get a first-hand look at the candidates, which could hold the political offices that, without question, affect their lives more than any other. Federal legislators and executives make headlines everyday that enrage or support public opinion - health insurance reform, economic stimulus packages - but local officials are the officers that most directly determine your property taxes or water rates, for instance.

Also, look to the Times' print and online editions soon for April 6 election preview coverage, and along with Thursday's forum be sure to educate yourself on the local races that affect the lives of every Monroe area resident.

Finally - vote April 6.