EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) –The Southwestern Indiana Regional Council of Aging is continuing their efforts to empower seniors and those with disabilities. In an effort to give a voice to a piece of the community that is sometimes left unheard, SWIRCA hosted its first ever ‘Meet the Candidates’ Mayoral Panel.

“The elderly population…those over 60. Sometimes their voices get lost. [Sometimes,] they are not for sure how to speak up..the proper channels of how to do that. Especially when you hit that 80-year-old group,” said Rhonda Zuber, the President of SWIRCA.

The non-profit serves older adults, caregivers and individuals of all ages living with disabilities. It’s the first time the nonprofit has held an event like it before.

SWIRCA says after conducting some research, they found that 73% of the ‘over 60’ population voted in the last election.

Officials say they recognized a gap needed to be filled.

“They need a seat at the table, and I don’t think they get enough opportunities to do that. It’s hard for them to get out at nighttime to travel to some of the other places, to hear some of the other debates. So, we decided to bring the candidates to them,” said Zuber.

Candidates shared their perspectives on important age-related topics such as building age-friendly communities, public transportation and caregiving, and the community posed questions of their own.

“I think that all the candidates running right now…Its going to be very good. I think it’s very important people get out and vote this time. And you know select a candidate that they think will do the best job for Evansville,” said Don Boerner.

Democratic Stephanie Terry said the older population is a vital piece to the growth of the city.

“The older population is gonna be in the majority in a few years. So, it’s important that we ensure that they stay in this city and that we can continue to retain them. Our population is decreasing, and they’re one way that we can ensure that we don’t lose our residents from our community,” said Terry.

Republican Natalie Rascher said partnerships are key to finding solutions to the issues discussed.

“I want to invest in those relationships so that whenever we do have issues and we have problems. We can come together and we can turn those issues and problems into opportunities to make Evansville better,” said Rascher.

Libertarian Michael Doughtery said overall improvement is the focus to improve the quality of life for residents.

“We have to do better as a city by offering affordable transportation, affordable ways for them to stay and age in place in their homes, and again we have to do better as a city to support that population,” said Doughtery.