The matchups are set for the upcoming Killeen City Council election. Now it’s time to hear what the candidates have to say.

Monday night, the Killeen Daily Herald will host a forum — the first of the campaign — for the eight residents vying for three contested district seats.

The District 1 seat on the Killeen council is the only one that is uncontested. Incumbent Shirley Fleming is running unopposed and has opted to attend Monday’s event as a spectator only.

But the District 2, 3 and 4 seats are up for grabs — and all candidates competing in those races have indicated they plan to participate in the forum, which will take place at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

That’s good news for Killeen voters — and for the democratic process.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the council candidates share their views on topics such as economic growth, city spending, crime, activities for youth and transparency in government.

As city officials continue to deal with challenges in these areas, it’s crucial that residents learn how the candidates propose to move the city forward on these and other issues of concern.

Candidates will be seated according to the district in which they’re running, so residents will have the opportunity to hear council hopefuls go head-to-head on each question posed by the forum moderators.

Each candidate also will be afforded the opportunity to give an opening statement, as well as closing remarks, which may help forum attendees to discern what the participants consider to be the most important issues facing the city.

Though this is a district election — meaning each candidate must live in the district they seek to represent — the issues candidates will address Monday night are important to residents citywide.

How they respond to the moderators’ questions will not only provide insight into how they would address the various challenges confronting their respective districts, but also will shed light on how they would work with other council members and the city manager to improve the city as a whole.

Make no mistake – this is a job interview. And residents have the final say on who will work for them during the upcoming two-year term on the council.

And it’s not a job to be taken lightly — by the candidates or the voters.

Once elected, council members will be making decisions that impact our daily life: determining the level of funding for public safety; authorizing cuts, continuation or expansion of city programs and services; making changes to the city’s fee structure; determining the direction of the city’s residential and commercial growth; setting the city’s tax rate; and approving the annual budget.

In short, council members will be handed our tax money and decide how best to spend it.

Most of us wouldn’t dream of hiring a financial adviser to manage our money without first meeting the adviser in person.

Why, then, would we consider voting for someone who will be responsible for managing our tax money without first hearing his or her views on city spending and transparency?

The answer is, we wouldn’t — and we shouldn’t.

Monday’s candidate forum is designed to help residents make an informed choice when it comes time to vote for those we will trust to set policy, enact ordinances and serve as stewards of our tax dollars.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m. Admission to the 90-minute event is free.

For those unable to attend, the forum will be broadcast in its entirety on Facebook Live.

In the coming weeks, the Herald will provide continuing election coverage, with regular articles addressing issues of interest to the community and asking the candidates their views in these areas.

Brief candidate biographies and video interviews can be found on kdhnews.com/centerforpolitics

It may be the first week of March, but early voting in the May 4 election begins in just seven weeks — April 22.

That’s why getting an early jump on this election is so important. It’s also why the Herald is committed to gathering the candidates now, to give residents an early look at the people who want to represent us on the City Council.

We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity and join us Monday night for what we believe will an interesting and informative discussion of the issues.

Eight of our fellow residents are asking us to give them our time — and our vote.

Let’s hear what they have to say.

dmiller@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7543

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