With the Nov. 6 election day drawing close, Thursday may prove to be a critical day in the campaign for local seats in the state Legislature.

There will be three local political debates that evening, and in all three the challengers say they are out to prove they represent a better alternative to the incumbents.

The incumbents say they are proud of their records and want to use the debates to inform voters on what they have accomplished.

Two of the debates will be held back-to-back at Attleboro High School. They will be co-sponsored by The Sun Chronicle and United Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The debates will feature state Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole, going against Republican challenger Jeffrey Bailey at 7 p.m. The Senate debate will be followed by a debate between state Rep. George Ross, R-Attleboro, and Democratic challenger Paul Heroux at 8 p.m.

In Norton, state Rep. Steve Howitt, R-Seekonk, will debate Keith Carreiro, a Swansea Democrat, in a cable TV forum.

Timilty, an eight-year veteran, said he will talk during the debate about his votes on large statewide issues, and his work on smaller neighborhood and constituent problems.

"I feel very confident that I have the knowledge of the district and the neighborhoods and I have had a lot of success in passing bills," he said.

Bailey, the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, said he is out to demonstrate to voters he has command of a wide range of issues.

He said he will be seeking out areas where he can contrast his positions against Timilty's to show voters they should vote for change if they want to end "business as usual on Beacon Hill."

The Senate debate will be followed immediately by a forum involving Ross and Heroux.

Heroux, an Attleboro resident and first-time candidate, said he intends to "hold George Ross accountable for his voting record and his lack of accomplishments."

He said he is disappointed Ross would only agree to debate once, so he will use his time to show he can think on his feet and handle a variety of issues.

Ross, a freshman legislator, said he will emphasize his 31 years of public service as a representative, city councilor and housing authority member.

Voters will also hear from him about the passage of his bill to ban bath salts and other accomplishments.

The third debate involves Howitt, who is seeking a second term, going against Carreiro, a Swansea school committee member.

The winner of the race will represent Seekonk, Rehoboth and parts of Norton and Swansea in the House.

Howitt said he will tell voters about his 100 percent attendance on roll call votes, and how he has worked to be a liaison between the towns and state government.

"I'll be talking about how I have done the job and been there for the towns and the people," he said.

Carreiro said his big issues are education, jobs, the environment and veterans.

"I want to show people I am a viable choice. I think debates are important to help get the word out so voters can hear from the candidates," he said.

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