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Even as the national electoral conversation descends a couple floors lower than we even knew the elevator went, our Montana and Butte-Silver Bow campaigns have been focused on policy and people’s needs. Overall, it’s been an engaging campaign season locally — and it isn’t over yet.

Whether you’re just now turning your attention to state and local races, or if you’ve been engaged from day one, this week presents an excellent opportunity to participate at the grassroots level.

Tonight, Tuesday, three candidates for the Montana Public Service Commission’s District 3 seat will participate in a forum at the Montana Tech auditorium, sponsored by the Butte Local Development Corporation. Republican incumbent Roger Koopman of Bozeman is being challenged by Democrat Pat Noonan of Butte and Independent Caron Cooper of Livingston. These three candidates each look at the responsibilities and opportunities of a seat on the Public Service Commission very differently, and it promises to be a lively discussion, with much at stake as energy issues play pivotal roles in the state’s future, and have a direct effect on consumers’ finances.

Then come a series of three debates sponsored by The Montana Standard. On Friday, Oct. 14, the first of two Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive debates will be held at the same place. This race between challenger David Palmer and incumbent Matt Vincent will set the tone for local government over the next four years. Friday’s debate will focus on taxes, budget and infrastructure. Then, the following Tuesday, Oct. 18, Palmer and Vincent will square off to debate Superfund and economic development issues.

Finally, on Oct. 27, the candidates for Butte-Silver Bow County sheriff – incumbent Ed Lester and challenger Russ Robertson – will debate, also at the Montana Tech auditorium.

These events are a fantastic way for members of the public to hear the candidates – and question them. If you have a question you’d like any of these candidates to answer, we urge you to email it to editor@mtstandard.com with the words “questions for candidates” in the subject line.

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We are pleased that KBMF-102.5 will record the three local debates. Although they will not air live, the radio coverage will dramatically increase the events’ reach.

But we also urge as many people as possible to attend. All four debates are at Montana Tech’s auditorium, and all four start at 7 p.m.

We hope to see you there.

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