Dear Editor, Elections for county offices are approaching and you, as a resident of Palo Pinto County, have a chance to help elect the individual(s) that you feel will best represent your passions to make this county stronger. On Feb. 18, 7 p.m., a "candidate forum" will be available for the public at the Palo Pinto County Courthouse. Each candidate will speak to their strengths, why they are pursuing that particular office and ask for your vote. The Republican Chair will provide questions from you, the public, to be addressed by each candidate. Arrive early to submit your question(s). In all small communities, some questions are never asked for fear of retribution, whether in forums for elections, council meetings or other public forums. That's unfortunate, however, what's the worst that can happen? You might get a snub at your local grocery store, not be invited to a back yard barbecue or become the topic of conversation where the "good ole' boys and girls" meet. Stand up for your beliefs and don't worry about what others think. There are a few statements that will be made by some candidates, that should throw up a red flag. "I just wanted to see if I could do it," " I'm retired and have nothing else to do," and the most common, "I think it will be fun." I personally heard those comments last year. Hopefully, the chair will ask the tough questions submitted. If not, ask them yourself in a one-on-one after the forum ends.

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There are records available that speak to a candidate's past if he or she has occupied a county office before. If you have any doubt about a candidate's past or qualifications, find out why he or she left the office they previously held. No candidate should have anything to hide, and if removed from any office in the past, why does that individual believe they have changed and can uphold the honesty and integrity of that office now. Avoid "small town politics" and the "good ole boys & girls." Stand up and make a difference by voicing your opinion(s) and don't forget to vote, You will feel awfully proud of yourself. This is your county, taxpayer, and you have a say in everything. Jim Vines Mineral Wells