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Last Thursday, a standing-room crowd of interested voters turned out in the blistering heat to listen to county candidates facing competition in the upcoming primary explain their views in a forum conducted by The Covington News and the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

In most cases, the candidates answered the questions posed to them in a positive way. There was also some good old-fashioned debating mixed in as well.

To see video from any of the individual races, you can go to and find the article "See videos from Thursday's forum."

Each candidate was also asked if they had ever been arrested and charged with a crime, A few answered truthfully while some dodged around the question.

We had previously reported on District 3 board of commissioner contender Anthony Flanagan's criminal record, but he was one of the candidates who refused to give the question a direct answer. In his response he was almost arrogant in his assertion that the question was not relevant.

To read the full details of Flanagan's criminal history, you can read the story "BOC candidate Flanagan has criminal past."

We accept the fact that Flanagan committed his crime more than 20 years ago and that he has served his time and been reinstated to run for office.

We think most people could forgive a transgression that happened that many years ago if, in fact, a person was truly transparent about it.

However, Flanagan apparently feels he doesn't have to publicly explain his past actions, which were serious enough to warrant jail time.

We feel he, and everyone else who committed a crime and is running for public office, owes the voters of Newton County an explanation of why they committed a crime and why the voters should look past such an incident.

Until that time happens, neither Flanagan, nor anyone else deserves to have the trust and confidence of the local voters.

Candidates who announce for public office open themselves up to public scrutiny, and that includes their criminal and financial background. If you don't want people looking at your past, don't run for office. And if you do have a mark on your record, own up to it and move on. That's all we ask.