What are you doing Monday night?

The Killeen Daily Herald will be hosting candidates for the Texas District 54 House seat in a 90-minute forum. If you want to hear what they have to say on issues affecting your pocketbook — and your future — you should plan to attend.

Four candidates are vying for the seat: Incumbent Republican state Rep. Scott Cosper, Republican primary challengers Brad Buckley and Larry Smith, and Democratic challenger Kathy Richerson. All have accepted the Herald’s invitation to participate in Monday’s forum at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

Herald moderators will ask the candidates questions on several topics — including property tax reform, public education spending and reforms, state spending priorities, management of state water resources, and immigration, among others,

Candidates also will be asked what they view as the top issues facing the district. Their answers will offer attendees valuable insight into where each candidate’s priorities lie.

No doubt, area residents are starting to see political signs popping up in front yards and on commercial lots. It’s all part of the age-old political strategy to increase name recognition, so prospective voters will remember the candidate’s name when it appears on the election ballot.

But signs and campaign literature don’t give voters a true feeling for who a candidate is, or what he or she believes.

The only way to fairly assess office seekers is to hear them answer issue-oriented questions in their own words — and compare those answers to the ones given by their competitors.

Monday’s program will be the first time the Herald has included candidates from both major parties in a primary election forum.

While Richerson is unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination, the Herald believes it is important to offer district residents an opportunity to hear her views on the issues as well as those of the three candidates seeking the Republican nomination. In a contested primary, it’s only natural that the Republican candidates will receive the greatest exposure over the next six weeks. That’s why it’s important that the Democratic candidate have an opportunity to be heard now as well.

Hopefully, the answers that Buckley, Cosper and Smith offer Monday night will help to better define their stances on issues of importance to the district’s residents — distinctions that may help voters decide who to support in the March 5 Republican primary.

But it is important that prospective voters learn where Richerson stands on those same issues, and to draw useful comparisons ahead of the November general election.

The format for Monday’s forum is simple.

Each candidate will have two minutes to make an opening statement. Following their remarks, Herald moderators will ask the candidates a series of issue-oriented questions. Candidates will have 90 seconds to answer each question posed, and the order in which candidates answer will be rotated for each question.

At the end of the moderated Q&A, each candidate will have two minutes to make a closing statement.

At the forum’s conclusion, audience members are encouraged to visit with Herald editors and tell us what additional questions you would like us to ask the candidates during the course of our campaign coverage.

It may seem like a long road to November, but the March 5 primary is only six weeks away. And early voting for the election starts Feb. 20. That’s right around the corner.

Given the crucial challenges facing the district and the state as a whole, it’s important that voters make an informed decision on who will represent them in the Texas House of Representatives.

The Herald’s forum is intended to be a valuable part of that decision-making process.

Four people will be on stage Monday night. Come next January, one of them will be representing Killeen, Harker Heights, Salado and Lampasas County in Austin.

We invite you to come out and hear what these candidates have to say — in person — and cast your vote accordingly.

For those who are unable to attend, the forum will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

To view the broadcast, go to facebook.com/kdhnews.

Monday’s program will begin at 6:30 p.m., and doors will open at 6 p.m, Admission is free.

We hope to see you there.

dmiller@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7543

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