During election season, The Daily Reflector works hard to learn everything about candidates and issues in a quest to become something like the ultimate voter.
During the last month, editors have conducted in-depth interviews with all but one of the 15 people running for the Greenville City Council. Each visited us and faced a barrage of questions about their visions, abilities and the political dynamics that guide the city.
Additionally, our reporters have had more targeted discussions with candidates and exchanged dozens of emails with them in pursuit of profiles or stories on specific issues.
We have interviewed government experts, city administrators and officials at Greenville Utilities about taxes, fees, a proposed transportation bond and the possibility of borrowing money from the utility.
We have studied documents regarding city finances, the relationship between the city and GUC and closed sessions of the City Council.
On Wednesday, we held a debate for the mayoral candidates. More than 100 people filled the seats at the C.M. Eppes Recreation Center, and a video of the forum is available online at reflector.com.
The candidates had thoughtful and meaningful exchanges prompted by reader and audience questions, and the guests had a chance to see in the candidates what we get to see in our interviews with them: not just their answers but their tone and mannerisms, their temper and humor, confidence and nerves.
Taken together, the interviews, the reporting, the debate, even the scores of letters to the editor the Reflector publishes this time of year, give the newspaper a wealth of information that we try to pass on through our coverage in the news pages, on reflector.com and in the candidate endorsements coming up soon.
Reading the paper is a good step for Greenville residents who want to bone up on the campaign, but it is just part of what citizens can do to help themselves make a decision.
Voters also can read what the candidates say about themselves on their personal websites — links are available in the candidate profiles on reflector.com/politics. They can visit other news sites, like the Greenville Guardian, which also hosted candidate debates, and check out Greenville Public Access Television, where a number of candidates air infomercials.
At least a couple more forums are coming up this week, including another mayoral debate hosted by the chamber of commerce at noon Tuesday — you have to register and pay to get in — and a 7 p.m. forum on Wednesday for District 3 and other candidates in Jenkins 1220 at East Carolina University.
We will hold another debate at the Eppes Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, this one featuring the candidates for the at-large seat on the council, and possibly a forum for the candidates in Districts 1-5.
There is no substitute for meeting the candidates, and they work hard to make themselves available.
We will do our best to let you know where they are going to be as Election Day nears, because the more ultimate voters we have, the better our city will be.
Bobby Burns is editor of The Daily Reflector. Contact him at email@example.com and 329-9572.