Elections are important.

They are the bedrock of our democracy, the foundational element to our political system and are the body politic’s way to continue on with a series of lawmakers or make different choices.

That’s why I believe the upcoming online candidate forums, sponsored by the EO Media Group, are so important and, if you allow, necessary.

Especially now, an opportunity for voters to connect with candidates is crucial. This isn’t a typical election season. That’s why the online forums, which will be livestreamed and will not have a live audience because of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, are essential for voters.

The forums are slated on Friday, May 1, for Democratic candidates for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District slot and Saturday, May 2, for Republican candidates. There are 16 candidates running for the congressional positions. The EO Media Group sponsorship of the forums is an important public service. We believe one of our core missions is to inform readers regarding issues that impact their lives.

Elections — who wins and who does not — make an impact at the local level. The candidate we choose to represent us in Washington, D.C., is crucial to nearly every facet of our lives. That’s why we must choose wisely and the forums will allow area voters to gain some perspective on all the candidates.

Normally, as we all know, by this time in an election season there already would have been numerous open debates, fundraisers for candidates and other opportunities to list and ask questions of the candidates. Because that just isn’t possible now, the forums will help democracy by furnishing a platform for all of us to hear what the candidates have to say, their goals and their views on specific subjects. Election time is near. Ballots go out April 29 and the primary election is May 19.

So that means time is at a premium. That’s why I hope you all tune in, if you can, and watch.

The forums are being livestreamed by La Grande-based Eastern Oregon Alive TV, a local internet TV station, and on the Blue Mountain Eagle’s Facebook page. And if you are unable to watch the events live, the forums will be archived and available for viewing at your convenience on the Eagle‘s website or on EOAlive.tv following the events.

The forums are being moderated by Chris Rush, the regional publisher of EO Media Group’s east side publications, including the Blue Mountain Eagle and East Oregonian. Voters can submit questions to CD2forum@eomediagroup.com in advance of the forums or on Facebook Live during the event.

The only way voters can make an informed decision is to be able to hear what the candidates have to say.

So, if you get the chance, please go online and watch the forums. It isn’t only a good way to be informed, but it is important to our democracy.

Andrew Cutler is the editor of the East Oregonian.

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