Staying Politically Informed In A Pandemic

Guest Correspondence

The COVID-19 crisis has consumed our daily lives, and rightfully so.  As we manage our lives, our work, our family, the most basic things we took for granted are taking extraordinary amounts of effort. As we have uncomfortably adjusted to our new realities, we know that some have been harder hit than others.

However, all of us are facing some very important decisions in August and November as to our local leadership in terms of elections. Now would normally be the time politicians are shaking hands, attending events, going door-to-door and seeking petition cards to get onto the ballot. It is an important time as the voter begins to understand who the candidates are and what they represent. It is the beginning of the voter formulating their electoral decisions. 

Exactly four months from today is the primary election. Domestic vote by mail ballots will be sent out in less than two and a half months. We must set aside the time to seek out these candidates and their positions on issues. We know that is difficult right now, as most of us are stuck at home, and those who are not at home are busier than ever.

To that end, The Argus Foundation is here to help and we want to make it easier for voters to make their choices at a time when it is difficult to get to know candidates. We are pleased to announce that last week, we successfully held our first Zoom candidate forum for the Sarasota County Commission District 5 candidates.

From the comfort of your home, you can view the forum at a time convenient for you and you can compare and contrast the candidates and their positions on issues affecting you.

While it does make for great political theater to ask candidates questions on the spot and without warning, in reality, snap uninformed decisions are not what we want from our elected officials. All of us want our elected officials to study issues and understand them before voting or taking a position.  In order to encourage that and see how well candidates prepared their positions, the questions were provided a week ahead of time. The end result was a very thoughtful discussion that leads the viewer to understand the logic behind each candidate’s positions.

We covered a wide range of topics from taxes to budget to water to transportation to municipal relations and more. We heard about the economy and how the candidates wanted to move us beyond COVID-19 and we heard the candidates thoughts on growth.

For the first time since 1994, not all of the county will get to vote for the county commission candidates that will affect their daily lives.  Only North Port and Englewood will get to vote in this race. However, it is an important discussion that everyone in Sarasota County should hear, as this election and the commissioner elected will affect everyone in the county. Citizens should understand where our community is headed.

To view this important forum, head to The Argus Foundation YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/lPCKOidx68A.

Christine Robinson is the executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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