American leaders often talk about the importance of voting, of exercising that fundamental right we all have as citizens under a democratic form of government.
What we often don't mention in that call to action, though, is that a voter's responsibility should not be just to show up and cast a ballot. Voters also owe it to themselves and their communities, states and nations to get educated about the choices they have to make.
When it's time to step into the voting booth and fill in the circles for your preferred candidates, how much do you know?
Providing as much information as possible about candidates for office is a huge part of the mission of journalism. As we do every year, we're devoting substantial reporter time and print and online space this fall to covering the key local races.
One of our goals in any of this coverage is to help readers understand the differences between candidates, and a particularly effective tool for doing that is a side-by-side candidate forum.
In a tradition that goes back before I arrived here in 2004, The Citizen is partnering with Cayuga Community College and the local cable providers to hold a series of forums for Cayuga County Legislature and Auburn City Council races.
The first of those forums will be recorded today, Oct. 12, and shown on cable access channels at 7 p.m. tonight and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. Each of the hour-long legislator forums will be shown on those channels at 7 p.m. the night they are recorded and 8 p.m. the following Tuesday or Thursday. They will also be shown at 5 or 6 p.m. the following Saturday and Sundays. With four candidates in the city council race, that forum will last 90 minutes.
In addition to cable broadcasts, we'll be posting the forum vidoes at our website, auburnpub.com, for viewing on demand.
The forums are organized by Guy Cosentino, executive director of the college's foundation. Cosentino is the host for these programs, and I have the duty of asking the candidates questions.
Here's a rundown of this year's CCC forum schedule:
Thursday, Oct. 12: The forum will feature the candidates for county Legislator District 5 (Aurelius, Fleming): Incumbent Paul Pinckney (R, C) and challenger Melissa R. Jenkin (D, Lake Party).
Tuesday, Oct. 17: In the race for county Legislator District 9 (Summerhill, Sempronius, Moravia, Niles), only one of the candidates agreed to participate. Therefore, instead of a forum, Kathleen Gorr (D, I, Fix Our Road) will be interviewed by Cosentino for 30 minutes. She is running against Charles Ripley (R) for the seat.
Thursday, Oct. 19: The race for county Legislator District 4 (Brutus) pits incumbent Grant Kyle (D,W, I) against Christopher Petrus (R,C) and both are expected to take part in the forum.
Tuesday, Oct. 24: The forum will feature the two candidates seeking to become county legislator for District 11 (part of Auburn): Elane Daly (D, W, Auburn First) and Michael Lesch (R,C).
Thursday, Oct. 26: This forum will feature Timothy Lattimore (R, C, I), the incumbent county legislator for District 13 (part of Auburn) against Robert Nodzo (D, Auburn First).
Tuesday, Oct. 31: The final forum of the 2017 campaign season will feature the four candidates seeking the two seats up for election on the Auburn City Council. Incumbents Terrance Cuddy (D, W, Auburn First) and Debby McCormick (D, W, Auburn First) are being challenged by John Camardo (R, C, I) and Adam Miller (R, I).
A special legislative session could be held soon in Albany to help people recover from spring flooding along Lake Ontario. It would be a good move, so it needs to be approached with no stings attached.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he supports holding a special session to approve more financial aid for businesses and homeowners who suffered losses from flooding. Applications for help have already exceeded the $45 million in aid approved by the state in July.
The problem may be that Cuomo is also seeking agreement on an agenda for the session and has said he'd like to see action on extending a health insurance program, among other things. The other legislative leaders surely have priorities of their own.
It's important to act soon on flood aid, because people will otherwise have to wait for that to be approved along with the next state budget. And because it's something that nobody in Albany should have any qualms about doing, it needs to be passed on its own merits rather than tied to a larger horse-trading agreement.
During the session, people are of course welcome to bring up other business, but the flooding money needs to discussed as a standalone issue, not tied to any unrelated legislation.
Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie should agree to help people recover from flooding. And it makes good sense to do it now rather than force people to wait for the next state budget to be finalized.
Failing to meet on a flooding bill because of a lack of agreement on other issues would be a slap in the face to property owners in need of urgent assistance.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.