It's rare that local residents can connect directly with three levels of government — local, state and federal — right here in Ashland, all in the same week. That opportunity is presenting itself next week. We urge everyone to take advantage.

It starts with the Ashland City Council meeting Tuesday night, when the council is scheduled to select a replacement for Pam Marsh, who stepped down as a council member after being elected to the state House of Representatives. Council members narrowed the slate of applicants from 14 to five: Traci Darrow, executive director of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank; former Chase Bank executive Shaun Moran; Tonya Graham, executive director of Geos Institute; Gina DuQuenne of Neuman Hotel Group, founder of the Southern Oregon Pride Parade; and Louise Shawkat, active in the 10 x 20 group promoting renewable energy.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., holds a town hall meeting at 9:45 a.m. in the Ashland High School gym. Wyden has held annual town halls in each of Oregon's 36 counties every year since he was elected in 1996. This one will be number 798.

On Friday evening, the Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee on Ways and Means will hold a public meeting on the state budget from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Rogue River Room of Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University. Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, is a member.

Government works best when leaders hear directly from the people they represent. Turn out and add your voice.