Last updated: January 16. 2014 3:29PM - 674 Views

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Residents in NC Senate District 10, which encompasses Sampson, Duplin and Johnston counties, are being offered a relatively unique opportunity next week to participate in a town hall forum with their legislative leaders. It’s one in which we hope many will participate.

Hosted by Sampson’s own Sen. Brent Jackson, the forum is slated for Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Sampson Community College, classroom 0-140.

This is the third year Jackson has hosted the forum which could include participation from state representatives Larry Bell and William Brisson, who also represent Sampson. They are being invited, the senator told one of our reporters this week, and, if history repeats itself, the pair, though Democrats, are likely to take part in the open discussion.

Our hope is that residents will take an active part as well, filling the SCC classroom and utilizing the time set aside to tell state leaders how they feel about myriad issues impacting our state and county.

Jackson, who is holding similar forums in the other two counties he represents, is to be commended for his commitment to the forum and his willingness to stand in front of constituents and accept both praise and criticism about an assortment of issues. Not all politicians put themselves out there in this manner. That Jackson does is something we respect and admire.

Calling it his fulfillment of a single campaign promise to be open to everyone, Jackson said he started — and continues — the forums to give “local citizens a chance to give their concerns, criticism and praises, and tell us what they happen to be interested and concerned with.”

And that is why we encourage residents to attend.

Too often, and for very good reasons, residents call or write us, saying political leaders aren’t receptive to their thoughts and opinions or that ordinary citizens have no real outlet to share their opinions with those elected to lead.

The forum provides that avenue, but it only works if residents are willing to take the time to go and, what’s more, to participate.

Attendance, alone, isn’t enough. Feedback is needed. And, that feedback needs to come from more than just community leaders. While it’s important for those in city and county government, the school systems and law enforcement to provide input on critical issues impacting them, and thus residents, it’s just as important for residents to share their own concerns, too.

Everyone has thoughts on how government is being run in Raleigh and Washington. On the state level, the opportunity is being afforded to share those thoughts with the ones most likely to take those concerns back to their colleagues in the state’s capital.

The forums are a once-a-year open line of communication, something Jackson has repeated said will be carried out in an informal setting to make residents feel more comfortable in asking their questions.

The event is a win-win. For Jackson, Bell and Brisson, it’s an opportunity to hear from residents about the things that most impact their lives, issues they should make priorities. For residents, it’s a chance to be heard and a chance to have questions they have answered.

We thank our legislators for their willingness to put themselves out there in such a public manner, and we urge residents to take part, making this the very best of the three forums held so far in Jackson’s tenure in the General Assembly. It could be the catalyst to get much work done for Sampson and its residents over the coming years.

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