You ready? You sure? Because a lot can happen between now and Election Day on Nov. 2. A lot of information and plenty of perspectives are to be published and put out there in the next several weeks, each detail and revelation demanding the careful consideration of responsible voters. There are important decisions to be made in this and every election. Casting a ballot isn't something to be done hastily.

Early voting opened Friday in Minnesota, including in Duluth where there are races for City Council and School Board. There are 13 candidates for eight open seats. There's a lot to review and consider.

While voting early is a great convenience and opportunity for those who otherwise maybe wouldn't be able to cast a ballot, the vast majority of eligible Minnesota voters can be wary of wading in before boning up on the candidates and issues. We only get one shot in each election. We don't want to vote for a candidate who maybe proves to be, shall we say, less-than-stellar during public scrutiny in the days and weeks ahead. Haste makes waste in casting ballots, too.

In Duluth, to help eligible voters make informed choices, the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a series of virtual candidate forums that wrap up Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Forums last week featured races for two at large seats on the School Board, with incumbent Kelly Durick Eder being challenged by Loren Martell and Amber Sadowski; for School Board in District 1, where Dana Krivogorsky is challenging incumbent Rosie Loeffler-Kemp; and for City Council at large, with incumbent Terese Tomanek and candidates Azrin Awal and Joe Macor.

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A forum at 10 a.m. features the races for City Council in District 2 in eastern and northern Duluth and District 4, which includes Duluth Heights, Piedmont Heights, Lincoln Park, and part of West Duluth. In District 2, Mike Mayou and Dave Zbaracki are vying to replace Councilor Joel Sipress, who didn’t seek reelection. In District 4, incumbent Renee Van Nett is being challenged by Howie Hanson. Hanson declined to participate in the forum.

Voters and others are encouraged to log in and watch, however. To register in advance, go here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Attendance for this forum is limited to 100.

All four of the City Council and School Board forums co-hosted last week and this week by the chamber and News Tribune are being posted after their conclusions at duluthnewstribune.com. They’ll be available for viewing anytime, on-demand, through Election Day.

In addition, this fall, the News Tribune will be publishing news stories, endorsements, columns from the candidates, and more, all also in the name of helping voters educate themselves before casting their ballots. These local races may lack the high-profile, attention-getting, headlines-grabbing notoriety of presidential, gubernatorial, or other federal or state tilts, but, in many ways, are more important. The decisions of our local elected officials more directly affect us where we live, work, and play.

No one can predict what might happen between now and Election Day, but we do know the unforeseen can dramatically and quickly change the political landscape and the decision-making of voters. Early voters don't get do-overs.

Yes, early voting can help fuel strong voter turnout. And yes, beyond convenience, some of us have excellent reasons for casting early ballots. Mobility challenges, being away from home at college, or snowbirds who know they’ll be leaving town ahead of November are among them.

Whether you vote early or on Election Day, take the time to bone up, to carefully consider the candidates and issues. Decisions as important as an election shouldn't be rushed or just gotten out of the way.



TO VOTE EARLY

Due to COVID-19, eligible voters in Duluth are encouraged to cast their ballots by mail, the city of Duluth said in a statement last week. Here are some guidelines: