With the Aug. 26 primary fast approaching, a host of key political battles line the ballot.
To better inform the electorate about the candidates and the issues, this week the Bradenton Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, began candidate forums at METV's studios for broadcasting numerous times up to the primary vote.
This is an opportunity for most voters to see and hear the candidates, and to judge for themselves who would best represent their views.
Three out of the five school board seats are up for grabs, so a new majority could be seated. These are nonpartisan contests so every registered voter is eligible to cast a ballot.
The two Manatee County commission races are partisan, though the winner of one will not face a November opponent and will assume the post.
The two county commission forums are currently airing: the three-way Democratic primary in District 2 between Michael P. Gallen, Corie M. Holmes and Charles B. Smith; and the two-candidate Republican contest in District 4, Robin DiSabatino vs. Tim Norwood.
One of the three school board races is also airing: the District 5 contest with the crowded field of Julie B. Aranibar, Mary S. Cantrell, James T. Golden and Carlton "Les" Nichols.
The next METV airtimes are at 6 p.m. today, July 19; 7 p.m. July 20; and 8:30 p.m. July 24.
Next week, we'll hold the final two major countywide contests, for Districts 2 and 4 on the school board. Those will begin airing on the evening of July 23.
These forums can be viewed anytime on www.bradenton.com/video. METV is also regularly airing all the forums, and the station can be viewed on Brighthouse channel 614, Verizon FIOS 31 and Comcast 19. For METV airtimes, visit www.metvweb.com.
We encourage voters to explore candidates' community involvement, leadership experience and depth of knowledge about the office they seek. Forum viewers should learn quite a bit.