Vote Here Sign, Silver Bluff High School (copy)

This week, we've seen two nationally televised debates from Democratic candidates running for president.

We just had a local primary election for S.C. House District 84 on the heels of a locally hosted Republican forum showcasing candidates for that race.

Tuesday's primary narrowed the field from five to two, Melissa Oremus and Alvin Padgett. The winner of the primary race will be decided in the Tuesday, Aug. 13, runoff election and will advance to the special election.

Unless there's a winning write-in candidate at the special election on Tuesday, Oct. 1, Oremus or Padgett will be heading to Columbia to represent District 84.

The State House position isn't the only public service job up for grabs.

Also on Tuesday, Aug. 13, will be a Republican primary election for candidates vying for the chance to represent District 3 on the Aiken City Council. 

There are a total of three seats on City Council up for election this year — District 1, District 3 and the at-large position of mayor.

Dick Dewar, who currently represents District 3, is not seeking reelection. The candidates competing in the District 3 primary are Republicans John Klecker, Nick Weaver and Kay Biermann Brohl. John Brecht, the only Democrat, will face the primary winner in November.

Regarding the other two seats, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, a Republican, is seeking reelection unopposed. City Council member Gail Diggs, a Democrat who currently represents District 1, will face off with Jeremy Stevens, a Republican, in the general election in November.

There are a total of seven candidates running for the three positions.

Six of the seven candidates have agreed to speak with us publicly Tuesday night, Aug. 6, at Aiken's Municipal Building in downtown. We asked them to answer a few questions – from the Aiken Standard and from the audience. We are covering the costs and you're all invited; the doors open at 6 p.m.

This isn't just a watchdog function. We believe it is essential for our democracy, and it all starts at the local level. That's you and the Aiken Standard.

We believe in elections, voting and public forums for publicly elected officials.

We also believe it's important to have confidence in our voting system.

There've been eyebrow-raising issues long before dangling chads and Russian hacking, but, like our federal legislators, we'll save concerns of manipulated elections for another day.

When it comes to voting, Aiken Standard readers "get it," so we want to help you make your decision. Next week, you'll see candidate profiles in the newspaper and a forum Tuesday evening.

Debates and open Q&A sessions are a great way for the general voting public to see, hear and engage with the candidates who are seeking the opportunity to represent them.

It should be a partnership.

Vote for the candidate who best represents the area where you live and who shares your values and vision.

There's no better way than to see how candidates interact with others, too.

It's often easy to "hide" behind the image of an ideal, perfect candidate on social media, advertisements and yard signs. But as we all know, face-to-face engagement allows you to see the true character of a person.

We want our public officials to stand in their truth, live in the light and be transparent about their actions and motives.

We'll see you all downtown at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, and then at the polls the following Tuesday.