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Make time to attend City Council candidate forums

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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It’s easy for Lincoln residents to be involved in local government. Anyone, who has a question or a suggestion about city operations shouldn’t be shy. While it’s harder to approach our elected federal and state officials in person or by correspondence respectively in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, at least one of the five Lincoln City Council members lives within minutes from you. That means you’ll run into Lincoln decision-makers at the store, at downtown community events, at the school parking lot, at the library and, if you’re really civically-minded, at public City Council meetings every other Tuesday at McBean Park Pavilion. Residents can voice their concerns and opinions to Lincoln’s council members during the public comment portion of the meeting. But most of the 43,000 residents don’t voice their opinions there. It’s usually the same 10 to 20 community members who regularly show up to council meetings and the same handful of audience members walking up to the podium. Many more residents, however, have no problem voicing their displeasure with city actions on Lincoln-centric blogs. But blogging opinions will not result in many council-driven solutions. These bloggers could instead attend the meetings and talk directly to the council. Let the council know, face-to-face, what you’re thinking. Let them hear your concerns. Because we all can play a part in our government. That’s the beauty of living in a democratic government. And American adults have the right to vote for a candidate of one’s choice. Our next Presidential General Election on Nov. 6 includes the U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, state Senate and state Assembly races. Locally, where voters can see an immediate difference, is the Lincoln City Council race. Measure H on whether to appoint or elect the city treasurer and the local school board race (two incumbents running for two seats) are also on the ballot. For Lincoln City Council’s three open seats, two incumbents and two candidates who were part of last year’s unsuccessful recall effort against the incumbents are among the nine candidates. Some candidates say that it’s time to put an end to the old regime. They have what they say is their proof. Just as the incumbents have their proof that the city has been managed in the best possible light. It’s up to voters to decide which leadership they want. So it’s imperative for voters to know what each City Council candidate stands for. Three candidate forums are set for Sept. 26, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 at Lincoln Crossing and Lincoln Hills. The second forum has a charge. During the recent Labor Day weekend, Lincoln resident Roger Ueltzen sent me a series of e-mails asking if The News Messenger would sponsor a candidate panel. One of Ueltzen’s e-mails stated, “These 3 forums should provide ample opportunity for the folks living in the Southeast and Southwest quadrants of the city to hear the candidates. What is missing is a venue for the folks in the Northeast and Northwest quadrants of the city to meet the candidates. My suggestion would be for the Messenger to take the lead in organizing a Candidate forum at Lincoln High School for the northerners.” I called Ueltzen Friday to ask why he wants another candidate forum. “Just to get to know the candidates, their backgrounds, what their plans are. Everyone who will vote should go to a forum,” Ueltzen said. “Who will you vote for unless you know what their thinking is? I’ve looked at a lot of candidates’ websites and I see a lot of goals or objectives but I don’t see how they will achieve it.” Ueltzen explained why voters need to be at these forums. “I attended last election’s forums. My mind wasn’t made up,” Ueltzen said. “This time, there are three seats, two incumbents and a lot of new people I don’t know a lot about.” Ueltzen makes some good points. “A lot of people on the northern side don’t go to Lincoln Crossing or Lincoln Hills or the chamber of commerce,” Ueltzen said. “Having another forum will give them a chance to see the candidates.” We’re all Lincoln residents. Yet Lincoln Hills residents have different needs than Lincoln Crossing residents; Twelve Bridges residents have different needs than downtown Lincoln residents. We need to make sure that whoever is elected to City Council has the best interests of all residents. That means getting to know each candidate by attending the forums. Take time to make the best informed decision before casting your vote. And don’t be a passive voter. If there’s a candidate you really want to see in office, write a letter to the editor (e-mail to messenger@goldcountrymedia.com). Let readers know what makes that candidate deserve your vote. Just remember to keep the letter to 300 words or less. Letter-writers are allowed one submission per month. Just as you should make your vote be the best possible decision, make your letter be the best thought-out discussion. Our city depends on participation by all of us. City Council candidate forums: Sept. 26: 6 p.m. at Lincoln Crossing Clubhouse, 830 Groveland Lane. Sponsored by the Lincoln Crossing Homeowners Association. Free Sept. 27: 7:30 a.m. at Lincoln Hills Orchard Creek Ballroom. Sponsored by the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce. $18 for members and $20 nonmembers. Includes breakfast. Call the chamber at 645-2035 for reservations. Oct 4: 3 p.m. at Orchard Creek Lodge at Lincoln Hills. Sponsored by Lincoln Hills Homeowners Association. Free.