Talk the Vote 2021

MANSFIELD — The next Mansfield City Council will face a lot of important decisions. Races for four of those council seats, roughly half the legislative body, will be decided Nov. 2.

Voters in wards 1, 3 and 5 will pick a council member. Citywide, an at-large member will also be elected.

That's why it's crucial residents educate themselves about the issues, learn about the candidates -- and share their views with those who seek to represent them.

Toward that end, Richland Source is again launching our "Talk The Vote" election listening tour, visiting all six wards in the city over the next several weeks.

After all, elections should always be about voters, not candidates. It's crucial that your voice be heard during the campaign -- and again at the ballot box.

It's a reprise of the popular event we first did in 2019, a voter-engagement project that gained international attention. The effort this year is being funded through a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.

Over the next five Mondays, from 6 to 7 p.m. each evening, you are invited to join us and share your questions and concerns about the future of the city through a guided discussion that focuses primarily on one question:

"What do you want to hear candidates talk about as they campaign for your vote?"

Below is the schedule for our tour:

Ward 1 -- Sept. 13 -- Idea Works, 40 W. 4th St. Register

Ward 2 -- Sept. 20 -- Richland Source Publisher Jay Allred's home. Register

Ward 3 -- Sept. 27 -- The Renaissance Theatre, 138 Park Ave. West Register.

Ward 4 -- Oct. 4 -- Idea Works, 40 W. 4th St. Register.

Ward 5 -- Oct. 11 -- North End Community Improvement Collaborative, 134 N. Main St. Register.

Ward 6 -- Oct. 18 -- SC Event Center, 417 Orange St. Register.

We will finish the tour on Monday, Oct. 25, when we invite all eight candidates to join us at Idea Works for an informal discussion, sharing what we have learned from you and asking them to share their own thoughts.

Richland Source City Editor Carl Hunnell will again moderate the "Talk The Vote" discussions, joined by Brittany Schock, our Engagement and Solutions Editor.

The sessions will be limited to an hour. These are designed to be smaller, more intimate gatherings. Residents/voters should feel comfortable asking questions and sharing what they believe should be priorities in the next few years.

Everyone is welcome at any of our six discussions. You may attend any or all of them.

Candidates on the Nov. 2 are also welcome to attend any or all sessions -- but only as an observer. The most important participants are the constituents and fellow citizens -- so this is a campaign-free zone.

Our goals in these discussions are three-fold. We want to collect questions and discussion topics for our Oct. 25 event with candidates at Idea Works. Second, we again want to produce "The Citizens' Agenda," a compilation of what we hear. This agenda will be presented directly to Mansfield City Council when it convenes in January for the first time.

Third, we will take the ideas from the agenda and produce a series of Solutions Journalism projects, each designed to look at an important issue in Mansfield and find out how that issue is being successfully handled in other comparable communities.

We tackled such a project in early 2020, regarding the city's issues with trash hauling and dumping, publishing a four-part series in late February -- just before the world shut down to COVID-19. We are excited to start the projects over again.

Space at the Talk The Vote sessions will be limited, so be sure to reserve your seat today. If you have questions about any of the events, contact Schock at brittany@richlandsource.com or call 419-989-6534.

Do you value local news?

Help make local news that keeps you informed and connected with your community sustainable in Richland County. Keep your news being written by locals for locals for less than $5/month.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"