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We aim for our Opinion pages to be a forum for ideas, a place where people can express new thoughts, expose problems and advocate for solutions. These opinions come from nationally syndicated columnists, our editorial board, local readers through letters to the editor and, occasionally, longer op-eds from leading local and state voices.

Beginning this week, we’re giving more space to local writers. "Voices of the Quad-Cities," a column series on local issues, trends and observations will appear in Tuesday print editions and online at qctimes.com.

While national columnists will still have a home in Opinion, we believe elevating local voices better aligns with our mission to inform – and thereby improve – the Quad-City area. It is local folks, after all, who best know the issues and concerns Quad-City residents face and the potential paths forward.

We’ve selected local people working in the trenches on some of the biggest issues facing our communities. Participating writers include:

Ann McGlynn, the communications director at St. Paul Lutheran Church. She’s an active parent of two students in Davenport public schools. A former journalist, McGlynn is also founder of Tapestry Farms, a non-profit that helps refugee families.

Tracy White, director of the African-American Leadership Society for the United Way of the Quad-Cities. She’s been a community volunteer and runs a mentoring program called Well Suited, which mentors young African-American males. She’s the mother of four and grandmother of two.

Mark Schwiebert, a lawyer and former mayor of Rock Island who has been involved with a number of regional boards. He also has been doing philanthropic work recently on environmental issues through the Schwiebert Fund for Environmental Studies at the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

Tracy Kurowski, a labor organizer with a deep background in the Quad-Cities advocating for working people. She also previously worked for former Rep. Bruce Braley and the United Way as a labor liaison. Before that she was an adult educator at City Colleges of Chicago. She now works for the Teamsters Local 238.

Kathy Doherty, a Rock Island resident with a long history working in the Quad-Cities with people with disabilities. She previously worked at the Robert Young Mental Health Center in the community support program for 35 years and is active with the Autism Society of the Quad-Cities.

Dave Heller, a Davenport-based businessman and national political consultant who owns the Quad-City River Bandits baseball team. He also is on the board of Genesis Health System and has an interest in advancing the health of the community.

We will be adding to this roster in the coming weeks.

As you can see, these columnists come from a broad range of backgrounds with equally broad areas of knowledge. Some are household names; others may be lesser-known. But all have good ideas worth sharing and opinions that can reshape the way we think about local issues. Expect to see more names added to the list soon as this project develops.

Watch for these columns beginning Tuesday. And, as always, speak up. Letters to the editor continue to be the heart of our Opinion pages, and we hope "Voices of the Quad-Cities" sparks new, meaningful discussions among local folks. Our opinions may sometimes differ, but we’re all pursuing the same goal: making our Quad-Cities a better community. We expect giving rise to more "Voices of the Quad-Cities" will go a long way in that endeavor.

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Executive Editor