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Question-and-answer panels starting Thursday night and hosted by local organizations are aiming to give constituents an opportunity to meet candidates running for Killeen city and school board.

Questions will be submitted on index cards by the event attendees and each question will be asked of the entire panel, said AnaLuisa Carrillo-Tapia, the deputy district director for Central Texas LULAC.

“It will be open to everybody and anybody,” Carrillo-Tapia said.

She said the only requirement for questions is that they remain ethical and non-argumentative — not attacking individual candidates.

“We want to promote community, we want to promote involvement and we want to promote an educated vote,” Carrillo-Tapia said.

After the question-and answer-period, the candidates will be available for members of the public to meet and greet them, she said.

The forums for candidates running for City Council and Killeen ISD school board are both being held at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., and are sponsored by nonpartisan organizations, LULAC Herenica Council 4297, Killeen Stars and Stripes Exchange Club and Bell County League of Women Voters.

The first forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday will feature candidates running for the Killeen ISD school board.

The second forum is presenting candidates running for Killeen City Council from 6 to 8 p.m. March 28.

All candidates registered for contested seats have confirmed they will attend the forums, Carrillo-Tapia said. There will also be an opportunity for candidates running uncontested to speak, she said.

There are three places open on the Killeen ISD board. Lan Carter is running against incumbent Shelley Wells for Place 1. David Michael Jones is running against incumbent Susan Jones for Place 2. Stanley Earl Golaboff and Robert People are running against incumbent Corbett Lawler for Place 3. Incumbent Brett Williams is running unopposed for Place 5.

There are eight candidates running for the three open city council seats.

There are three candidates filed for District 2: Will Baumgartner, Mellisa Brown and incumbent Debbie Nash-King. Three candidates have filed for District 3: Sandra Blankenship, Tolly James Jr. and incumbent Jim Kilpatrick. Incumbent Steve Harris is challenged by Brockley King Moore for District 4. Incumbent Shirley Fleming was unopposed for City Council District 1, and that election has been canceled.

“You need to now who you are voting for and what their platform is,” Carrillo-Tapia said. “This is a time for people to ask questions and let candidates know what they need.”

Historically, the voter turnout has been low in Bell County, Carrillo-Tapia said, and through the public information forum, LULUC Herenica Council hopes to increase community involvement in the process.

“Your vote counts,” Carrillo-Tapia said. If you don’t vote, you’re still voting — just not for a candidate you selected.”

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