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Editorial - Rise and shine, voters, Election Day is near

If there's an alarm clock to wake up voters to the election, it would be ringing now.

Election Day, November 2, is less than one month away. Unfortunately, it can get a little confusing trying to keep track of all the races and who is running for what, let alone how they stand on the issues.

Here's a list of candidates who are seeking contested offices that represent Douglas County (we'll skip the statewide races for now):

U.S. Representative, District 7 - Glen Menze (Independence), Lee Byberg (GOP), Collin Peterson (DFL, incumbent), Gene Waldorf (independent).

State Senate, District 11 - Bill Ingebrigtsen (GOP, incumbent), Jim Thoreen (DFL).

State House, District 11A - Dave Holman (Independence), Torrey Westrom (GOP, incumbent), Bennett Smith (DFL).

State House, District 11B - Bert Pexsa (Independence), Mary Franson (GOP), Amy Hunter (DFL).

Douglas County Board, District 2 - Norm Salto (incumbent), Elroy Frank.

Douglas County Board, District 4 - Paul Anderson (incumbent), Arlan Kakac.

Douglas County Board, District 5 - Dan Olson (incumbent), Bill Dropik (write-in candidate).

Douglas County Attorney - Chris Karpan (incumbent), Chad Larson.

Depending on where you live, there may also be city and school board positions to fill.

Here, for example, are the races in the city of Alexandria and School District 206:

Alexandria City Council, Ward 1 - Cindy Bigger (incumbent), Virgil Batesole, Don Kleine.

Alexandria City Council Ward 4 - Dave Benson (incumbent). (An opponent, Steve Hensley, withdrew from the race.)

School District 206, Position 4 - Sara Reemts, Sandy Susag, Laura Knudsen.

To help voters make more informed choices on Election Day, the Echo Press will publish a Voter's Guide that will be inserted in the October 27 issue. Questionnaires have been mailed to candidates and they have 500 words to make their case.

The Douglas County Auditor's Office will also be running a sample ballot and official election notice in the newspaper, tentatively set for the October 20 issue.

Voters will also be seeing many paid political letters on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks. Guidelines for letters are as follows:

Letters to the editor that endorse a particular candidate or political party will be charged 10 cents per word. The newspaper started this policy several years ago because there is a limited amount of space available on the Opinion page. Letters are printed under the heading "Paid Political Letters" and must be paid for in advance. There is a 200-word limit on endorsement letters.

All letters must be signed and include an address and phone number for verification purposes. Letters submitted by a group or organization must still contain at least one individual's name who represents the group and an address. If a letter contains several signatures, only the first five names will be printed.

The Echo Press will try to print every letter it receives as long as it meets the guidelines. The newspaper doesn't selectively put some letters in and leave others out.

Deadlines for paid political letters are the same as regular letters to the editor - noon on Monday for consideration in Wednesday's newspaper and noon on Wednesday for the Friday edition.

The last batch of endorsement letters before Election Day will be printed in the Wednesday, October 27 issue and they can't be controversial or raise new issues. No paid letters will be printed in the Friday, October 29 issue right before the election.

Let's make the most of the next four weeks leading up to the election. Learn as much as you can about the candidates, do some research, ask questions, read the newspaper, talk to friends and neighbors. And then make an informed vote.

Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper's editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter, Celeste Beam.