Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

The local election season kicks into high gear next week.

The Daily Triplicate begins its candidate forums Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Mary Peacock Elementary School.

First up are the nine candidates for School Board. On Wednesday it's the three City Council and five Harbor Commission hopefuls, same time, same place.

Then on Tuesday, Oct. 12, the two finalists for district attorney will square off. The venue will be the same, but the chance to focus on just two candidates will allow some format fluctuation. Among other things, Jon Alexander and Robert Drossel will get the chance to ask questions of each other - sort of a cross-examination, if you will.

As for the bigger groups of candidates who start the show next week, they'll each have the opportunity to make opening statements, then respond to several questions posed by me, the moderator.

I've occasionally been asked why I don't open these forums to questions from the audience. There's certainly some value to town hall-style formats in election campaigns, but time and resources are precious, and I prefer more tightly run events. However, readers are invited to e-mail their suggested questions for the

candidates to me at rwiens@

Did I mention that time and resources are limited? That's why the newspaper is not conducting public forums for all the local races. This week, however, we are interviewing the candidates for county auditor and College of the Redwoods trustee, for purposes of news stories and editorial endorsements.

Some Rocky Mountain Highs and Lows

There's something special about returning to a former place of residence, especially if it hasn't been that long since you called it home. Laura and I recently vacationed in Colorado Springs, where I worked for The Gazette from 2004 through 2007.

In some ways, it was like we'd never left. The streets were familiar - we even remembered how to navigate the suburban parking lot labyrinths. So were the people. We were mainly visiting our daughter/stepdaughter and her fiancandeacute;, but we also spent time with some of my former co-workers. The newsroom-related chatter flowed as seamlessly as the Laughing Lab, my favorite Springs brew.

In one significant way, however, it was like Laura and I had never before ascended the Rockies. Our bodies did not remember being Coloradans. We quickly dried out in the shadow of Pikes Peak, and some minor hiking prompted gasps. We needed Advil and lip balm, and probably less Laughing Lab.

We have become lowlanders, a fact we regret only when we're at 6,035 feet, the official altitude of Colorado Springs. The reason all those14,000-foot mountains in the Rockies don't look more dramatic is that they're usually being viewed from places like Denver, already a mile or more high.

We did the trip by car, which drove home just how far we'd come when we moved to Crescent City at the end of 2007. The rewards were many, if you're into being a road warrior. The aspens were ablaze with autumn yellow, then Utah's red rock canyons spread out in impossible panoramas. When we reached the utter desolation of mid-Nevada, we had truly gotten away from it all.

Now it's back to sea level. Bring on those candidates.