Voters need to embrace opportunity to be heard.

Much attention has been focused on contentious races for Kansas Statehouse, and for good reason.

An ultraconservative faction of the Republican Party has targeted more moderate Republicans state senators, in particular as part of a quest to control the Legislature and eliminate any possible check on Gov. Sam Brownback's agenda.

Their campaign to seize control has a number of good state senators in their sights, including Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton. Morris is challenged by House member Larry Powell, R-Garden City.

As for House races, John Doll, R-Garden City, is running in the 123rd district that includes most of Garden City. Republican incumbent Reynaldo Mesa bowed out, but not in time to remove his name from the ballot. Should Mesa somehow win, ultraconservatives would love to see him resign and clear the way for the selection of another Republican who'd vote in lockstep with the governor.

The House race in District 122 features Lakin Republicans Russ Jennings and Randy Hayzlett. Randy's brother, Gary, a Brownback ally, occupied that seat for many years.

Considering the unseemly maneuvering by Brownback and his allies to get those who would favor their agenda elected the governor has opted to endorse select Republicans voters should hear from the candidates themselves before the Aug. 7 primary.

One opportunity to do so will arrive in a candidate forum from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Finney County fairgrounds.

And Statehouse races aren't the only contests of interest. Three candidates Republicans Duane Drees and Troy Unruh, and Democrat Patsy Fort want to replace outgoing Finney County Commissioner Don Doll.

Tamara Hicks, Susan Richmeier and Brian Sherwood will face off in a GOP primary that has become the election for Finney County attorney, due to the lack of a Democratic contender.

Local residents shouldn't miss any opportunity to hear candidates address issues ranging from education to budgets to law enforcement.

After all, citizens should be the ones looking to seize control of the political process. They can do so by learning more about the issues, and voting for those candidates who would best serve their interests.