CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — People in Champaign County are already getting ready to fill out their ballots for the next local election. On Sunday, they heard from some of the candidates for different races in a town hall forum.

The candidates are hoping to get the town’s votes. 

“It helps us to make our choices. conscientious choices about who we want our next people to be,” Minnie Pearson, the Champaign County NAACP President, said.

She helped organize the forum in Champaign.

Candidates for Champaign mayor, school board, and city council were at the library to connect with the community and answer questions. 

Early voting started on Thursday, and one of the forum’s organizers said educated voting needs to start right away. It’s why people said they showed up to the event. They wanted to engage with those who want to be their city leaders. 

The three mayoral candidates, Deb Frank Feinen, Don Gerard and Azark Cobbs talked about addressing crime, affordable housing and accessible grocery stores. 

Then, those running for city council and school board took the stage to talk about what they hope to focus on if they win their race. 

The Parkland College Board of Trustees candidates also had a meet and greet with the people who came.

“We want people to find out who the candidates are, what they stand for, what their priorities are, and see if they align with the voters,” Terry Maher with ILVOTE of Champaign County said. “We put out a survey that was open from Feb. 1 to the 15th, asking the public to submit questions for the candidates.” 

In that survey, Pearson said the number one question people wanted to know was “why.” 

That includes why the candidates are running and why they want to serve the community. 

If you weren’t able to make it out to the forum but have questions about who is running, there’s a website to help guide you. 

Maher recommends researching your candidates with this link.

The municipal election is on April 4.