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).

Executive editor Jeremy Boyer’s column appears Thursdays in The Citizen and he can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or jeremy.boyer@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer

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