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Assemblyman Gary Finch and Democratic challenger Diane Dwire debate on Oct. 23, 2014 at Cayuga Community College. 

As the 2016 general election approaches, it's time for voters to start doing their homework on the choices they'll have to make.

I'm not talking about the race that will be on the top left of the ballot. Most are probably feeling they've had their fill of watching, hearing and reading about the presidential campaign.

But with all of the energy that race is consuming, it's easy for voters to have overlooked the other races they'll be considering. And this year, that includes elections for state Legislature and U.S. Congress seats.

For The Citizen and auburnpub.com, Robert Harding's been following the local campaigns for state and federal office for months, and a quick way to get caught up on what's been happening is to visit his Eye on NY blog at auburnpub.com/blogs or the general election page at auburnpub.com/news/local/elections.

There's also much more coverage to come prior to Election Day on Nov. 8.

October means it's debate season, and there's plenty of those coming for these Albany and Washington races. In the race for the 24th Congressional District, which includes Cayuga and Onondaga counties, U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, and Colleen Deacon, D-Syracuse, will be debating at several locations throughout the region. Robert Harding will be covering them and reporting on what's said to our readers.

Locally, Cayuga Community College's television/radio department has lined up two debates involving state Legislature candidates. As as happened in past years, I'll be asking questions at those events, and I'm eager to take any question suggestions you may have.

The first debate is Oct. 20, when incumbent state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, will take part in a forum with Democratic challenger Jermaine Bagnall-Graham of Sherburne in the race for the 41st Senate District.

Another is planned for Nov. 1, when state Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport, has a rematch with Diane Dwire, D-Camillus, in the battle for the 126th Assembly District.

Both of those debates will appear on Time Warner and Verizon cable channels in the local area. Times and dates will be announced soon. We also will have them posted for viewing anytime at auburnpub.com.

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In the 54th state Senate District, Republican candidate Pam Helming and Democratic candidate Kenan Baldridge are scheduled to appear at the Oct. 19 Wednesday Morning Roundtable in Auburn, which we'll cover through a news story and video.

CCC was unable to secure debates in the 54th state Senate District or the 24th Congressional District for the Cayuga County TV forums, which is unfortunate because it's helpful to be able to have candidates side-by-side talking about issues that may be unique to the local area, such as the issues involving Owasco Lake.

Nevertheless, we're still going to be bringing much more information to our readers on all of these races.

In addition to his day-to-day campaign coverage, Robert Harding is working on a series of candidate profiles that will be published in the week leading up to the election.

At the same time, we'll be publishing our editorial board endorsement columns on the opinion pages, something we do after meeting personally with all of the candidates.

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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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