Just in case it wasn’t already apparent, election season is officially open in Forest Park.

Fundraising efforts are underway, candidates are stumping for votes-in the real world and online, and a series of open forums has begun. Tonight, the Forest Park Middle School will play host to the three mayoral candidates as they answer questions posed to them by members of the audience. This important opportunity to see your prospective mayor in action should not be missed. Naturally, we’ll have complete coverage of the event in an upcoming issue, but we would strongly encourage every voter to get an unfiltered, first-hand look at the candidates. Forums such as these are a great opportunity for voters to come out and kick the tires, so to speak, and develop their own opinions of who should represent our community.

While the Review partners with the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street to bring you tonight’s event and two others before the April 17 election, voters may also take advantage of additional forums being sponsored by a grassroots organization. Citizens United in Forest Park kicked off the season on Feb. 1 with a candidates’ night of its own. A standing room only crowd was given nearly two hours to ask questions, listen and interact with the people who want to lead us into the next four years.

For all the criticism that organizers of CUinFP have brought upon themselves, they also deserve credit for hosting a well-attended and informative event.

But unfortunately, voters heard from only two-thirds of the field. Mayor Anthony Calderone did not attend CUinFP’s forum. Surely this was disappointing to the voters, but it’s quite easy to understand the incumbent’s reluctance.

The president of CUinFP touts the organization as an unbiased activist group, but time and again he has regarded the mayor with outright malice. Frankly, it would have been more remarkable had the mayor decided to walk into the lion’s den.

We use this space to highlight the mayor’s absence at the CUinFP forum not to lay blame with either party, but to emphasize the responsibility we all have as voters. We, as individuals, will stand alone in the voting booths and fill out our ballots. The candidates can not stand there and guide your decision anymore than an advocacy group or your local newspaper. We, as individuals, must make the effort to cast an informed vote.