News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 30, 2008

MAX JONES: Voters anxious to get news about candidates

By Max Jones

TERRE HAUTE — Labor Day historically marks the beginning of the fall season for political campaigning. That has been true most years in which elections are conducted. This year, however, such a designation may be greeted will little more than a chuckle.

Beginning of the campaign? Yeah, right. Thanks to the marathon presidential primary season and competitive-to-the-end race for the Democratic nomination, the campaign seems as though it’s been going on forever.

What this Labor Day does mark is the start of local political campaigns, and the first thing required for candidates for state and county offices in the Wabash Valley is to find a way to get the attention of a fatigued electorate.

There are a number of competitive contests for potential voters to consider this fall. In addition to an interesting gubernatorial election, the ballot will feature races for state legislature, county offices and judgeships.

Your Tribune-Star recognizes the major role it serves in delivering information to readers about local elections. Our journalists know that you depend on us to publish accurate and useful information about candidates that will help you make voting decisions come Election Day.

Changing dynamics of the voting process, fueled in part by the rise of satellite voting sites and more voters casting ballots before Election Day, has caused us to re-evaluate our political news-gathering process. In the past, we would not begin publishing candidate information until two weeks before the election because we believed voters did not tune into local politics until then.

That may no longer be the case. During recent election cycles, more and more readers have challenged us to get candidate information to them sooner and to package it conveniently on our Web site, TribStar.com. We’re listening, and we are now in the process of adjusting our political publication calendar.

Expect to see our candidate coverage begin earlier this year, perhaps as soon as the last week of September and first week of October. We then plan to organize our election reports for quick reference and review from the front page of TribStar.com.

As always, we appreciate reader input and feedback on our coverage of local news and events. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and share your ideas or concerns.

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• The Tribune-Star will once again team up with the League of Women Voters of Vigo County to sponsor two candidate forums this fall.

The first will be Tuesday, Sept. 30, and will feature candidates for state legislature in districts that include precincts in Vigo County. The forum will be conducted from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute.

The second event will be Thursday, Oct. 23, and will feature candidates for commissioner and County Council in Vigo County. This forum also will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Library.

The formats for both events have yet to be determined, but more information will be available soon.

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• As a reminder, Hoosier voters can participate in this year’s series of gubernatorial debates by submitting topics, issues and questions for candidate discussion.

To do so, visit the Web site of the Indiana Debate Commission (www.indianadebatecommission.com) and fill out a simple online form. You can also submit questions through the U.S. mail at Indiana Debate Commission, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis IN 46208, Attn. Indiana Governors Debate.

It would be best to submit those questions in the next week. The first debate — Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville — will feature questions submitted by voters through these means.

Max Jones can be reached at (812) 231-4336, or by e-mail at max.jones@tribstar.com.