Duluth’s legislative races are up next, as candidate forums being hosted this fall by the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce continue.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, House District 7A DFL Rep. Jennifer Schultz, 7A Republican challenger Tom Sullivan, House District 7B DFL Rep. Liz Olson, and 7B Republican challenger Art Johnston take turns answering questions asked by Chamber President David Ross and News Tribune Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick.

Forums this year are being held virtually due to restrictions on gatherings and other necessary precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These forums give voters a safe, convenient way to hear from and consider the qualifications and stances of the candidates. And they’re an excellent opportunity for the incumbents and candidates to reach voters. The newspaper and Chamber have been partnering for 10 years to host candidate forums.

Up to 100 attendees can pre-register for Tuesday’s forum. A live feed will be available at duluthnewstribune.com. The forum also can be viewed afterward at the website, on-demand.

The first Chamber/DNT forum of this season was held Friday featuring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and her Republican challenger, the former congressman, Jason Lewis. Upcoming forums are scheduled for

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  • Wednesday, Sept. 30 (Minnesota Senate District 3: Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL, vs. Christopher Hogan, R; and Minnesota Senate District 7: Donna Bergstrom, R, vs. Jennifer McEwen, DFL). Pre-register here.

  • And Wednesday, Oct. 7 (Eighth Congressional District Rep. Pete Stauber, R, vs. Quinn Nystrom, D). Pre-register here.

In addition, the News Tribune Editorial Board is sponsoring, on its own, two more candidate forums on:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 13, with St. Louis County Board candidates Ashley Grimm and Joe Macor, who are vying to represent the district in western Duluth.

  • And Thursday, Oct. 15, with Minnesota District 11 Sen. Jason Rarick, R, and Michelle Lee, DFL.

All the forums are "civility certified," with the participation of Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project, an effort launched in 2003 by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation that has since gone global. Duluthians can appreciate that the project remains active here, encouraging respectful exchanges of viewpoints and ideas.

In addition to the forums, in the interest of helping voters meet their responsibility to bone up on the challengers, incumbents, and issues in order to make informed ballot decisions, News Tribune Opinion pages in the coming weeks will be filled with columns from the candidates and incumbents, as well as endorsement editorials. The Editorial Board also has met one-on-one via Zoom with candidates and incumbents in seven races for Minnesota House, Minnesota Senate, and St. Louis County Board beyond those listed above.

What matters most, of course, is what you think: your vote, whether cast absentee or on Election Day. As the News Tribune has opined previously, voting is our duty and responsibility as citizens and as members of our community. All of us who are eligible to vote have a voice, and no one should let their voice go silent over something as important as choosing our elected representatives.

Voting is a privilege. We can recall that in the early days of our nation, most states allowed only wealthy white men to vote. Over decades, many courageous individuals — most notably women and African-Americans — fought for and even died for the right to vote. Going to the polls is not to be taken for granted.

An informed vote considers more than the letter or letters following a candidate's name. Voters can take advantage of the upcoming candidate forums and other content in the News Tribune this fall as part of their all-important preparations to be an informed part of the political process.