SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Election season is heating up across the nation and the first round of debates between Representative Kristi Noem and her democratic challenger Matt Varilek kicks off Wednesday.
Debates are an opportunity for candidates to get their message across to the public openly and for the public to get a first-hand interaction with both sides of the ticket. But they can also have high stakes for the candidates.
"Quite often people really aren't that aware of the candidates until they actually see them and listen to them," voter Jeff Richards said.
Richards is looking forward to Wednesday's debate. He believes people should pay attention to make the right decision as to which direction the country should take.
"Are we going to go with the more free enterprise system or are we going to rely on increasing support from government," Richards said.
"I hope that a debate would let us know more now what their thoughts are, what their ideas are. Right now when you get an ad, see an ad on TV, it's more on what this person is doing that's not right and they're too far apart in issues," Sioux Falls resident Roger Preheim said.
Preheim would like to see Republicans and Democrats come together and start getting more done instead of seeing the negative add rhetoric.
"They're fighting constantly, Republicans against Democrats, and I think that's really hurting our country," Preheim said.
Augustana Political Science Professor Joel Johnson says debates are unique opportunities for candidates but can still be risky.
"The incumbent comes in with an advantage in name recognition and familiarity but also has more to lose. So if there is a slip up or something gets said that's embarrassing or shows not so much of command of the facts, then that can really harm the incumbent," Johnson said.
He says it gives the challenger a chance to gain that name recognition and solidify their views. It also gives the public a chance to see the candidates directly.
"You never know what someone will say when they are unscripted and that's what makes debates fun to watch," Johnson said.
Representative Noem and her challenger, Matt Varilek, will face off at 2 p.m. at Dakotafest in Mitchell. The South Dakota Corn Growers Association is sponsoring it.
You can watch it live on our Live Coverage page of KELOLAND.com when it begins.
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