OUR VIEW: Stay informed as you prepare to vote

Mississippi voters will head to the polls Aug. 6 to vote in the primary election. On the ballot will be statewide, state district, legislative, county and county district offices. Run offs, which will take place only if a candidate does not have a majority in the first primary, will be Aug. 27. The general election is Nov. 5.

In East Mississippi, voters will choose new state legislators to succeed Terry C. Burton in Senate District 31 and Videt Carmichael in Senate District 33. A host of other important seats are also on the ballot.

We bring up this as a reminder of the importance of participating in the democratic process. Voting is the one true way to ensure that citizens have a voice in public affairs.

To that end, The Meridian Star is partnering with The League of Women Voters-East Central Mississippi, a non-partisan group that encourages participation in government. The League seeks to achieve solutions in the public interest on key issues at all levels of government, build citizen participation in the democratic process and engage communities in promoting positive solutions to public policy issues through education and advocacy.

In April and May, the League conducted informal surveys in Meridian to assess what issues are important to voters. Priorities identified from the surveys include K-12 education, healthcare, veterans affairs, poverty and other issues.

In the coming days, The Meridian Star readers will see questions on K-12 education and healthcare posed by the League along with answers from candidates published on The Star’s Opinion page.

Candidates participating include Jeff Tate and Bubby Johnston in Senate District 33, beginning Friday.

In discussing these columns, we agreed with the League to publish the columns only if all candidates in the race participated.

State Senate District 31 candidates Hampton Gardner and Mike Marlow agreed to answer the questionnaire, but Tyler McCaughn declined.

In House District 83, Billy Adam Calvert agreed to answer the questionnaire, but Greg Snowden, the incumbent, declined.

In House District 84, Roy May and William E. Shirley Jr. completed the questionnaire, but Troy Moss Smith did not.

We praise the League of Women Voters-East Central Mississippi for encouraging the candidates to participate in this project, and hope their efforts to inform voters continue. We recommend greater participation by candidates in future elections.

We also hope our readers find this information useful as they plan to vote on Aug. 6.

As part of our efforts to inform voters, The Meridian Star will publish a voters guide in the weekend edition July 27-28. That material will also be published online at www.meridianstar.com/elections.

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