Candidates running for Alma City Council seats were given an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and speak on their qualifications during a candidate forum held in the Alma Community Building on Wednesday.

Alma Rotary Club and the Alma Area Chamber of Commerce held the forum to hear from the 12 candidates running for Alma City Council.

Brian Huff, Alma Area Chamber of Commerce director, told those attending the forum that it is important to hear from candidates running for election to government seats.

“This election, with having almost every seat contested, it’s an important decision for the City of Alma,” Huff said at the beginning of the forum. “We want to make sure that the voters go to the polls as informed as possible.”

Candidates who spoke during the forum were Paul Mahan, Jerry Austin Martin and Alderman John Tribulak, all running for Ward 1 Position 1; Alderman Maria Washburn, running for Ward 1 Position 2; Alderman James McGhee, running unopposed for Ward 2 Position 1; Alderman Eddie Wakefield, running for Ward 2 Position 2; James Batura and Alderman John Ware, running for Ward 3 Position 1; and Gary O. Perry, running for Ward 3 Position 2.

Vicki Lamproe, who is running for Ward 1 Position 2, could not attend, but her husband John Lamproe gave a statement on her behalf. Candidates Linda Folkerts, running for Ward 2 Position 2, and J.D. Finley, running for Ward 3 Position 2, also were not in attendance.

Each candidate who spoke was given four to five minutes to introduce themselves and speak on qualifications they felt would benefit the City of Alma.

After listing their roots and ties in the city, education and work experience, many candidates focused on the need for growth in Alma, improvements to neighborhoods, streets and the downtown, and transparency in government.

Incumbents also made efforts to point out current projects underway and improvements that already have come to fruition.

It is important to note that Alma residents are not limited to voting for representatives from their own ward. While Alma is divided into three wards and there are two representatives for each ward, Alma residents can cast votes for every council seat in the city.

Early voting is underway at the Crawford County Emergency Operations Center at 1820 Chestnut St. in Van Buren.

Early voting hours at the EOC are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays through Friday, Nov. 4, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5.

Monday, Nov. 7, the day before the election, early voting will begin at 8 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m.