It’s almost time to vote again, and ahead of the editorial board’s recommendations, Tuesday’s editorial explains why we still offer our take on the candidates and by what criteria we judge them:
Over the subsequent days, The Sun News editorial board will again be sharing its opinions with you on upcoming local elections. Our reason for doing so is not to drum up support for particular candidates or so that our readers will mutely agree with our suggestions. We’re not campaign managers or political operatives, nor do we want to be. Instead, we offer our opinion on races in the hope that we can offer food for thought and inform your decisions that much more as you head to the ballot box.
As journalists, we’re in the unique position of having both the access and the time to follow candidates and to get to know them and their backgrounds. The newspaper’s primary method of sharing that information with you is through the daily stories written by the newsroom’s reporters. And while those articles fill a vital role, our reporters are dedicated to the ideals of fairness and objectivity. In other words, they report what happened and who said what, but they keep their opinions to themselves. We believe these opinion pages fill a different but similarly important role, offering frank impressions of candidates based on our own interactions with those seeking public office.
Over the past weeks, our editorial board, comprised of Publisher P.J. Browning, Executive Editor Carolyn Callison Murray and Editorial Writer Dan Golden, has talked with as many of the candidates in this year’s races as possible, picking their brains on issues germane to our communities and reminding ourselves not only of their positions on issues but their personalities as well.
The Internet and the rest of the media is packed with commentary. You could fill years reading all of the opinions available. But your local paper is one of the few places you can find information on local council races and coverage of the candidates who will often have more impact on your daily life than the national political figures who regularly dominate headlines.
In talking to candidates, our goal is determining their fitness for public service. And our best indicator of that ability is first and foremost a candidate’s character. We appreciate candidates who are honest, open and who show a genuine love for the community in which they live. If a candidate has a public record of duplicity or can only say negative things about their community, we will not recommend him or her for service. While we may honestly differ on some policy decisions, we should never doubt that our leaders are seeking the best for our communities.
In considering who to recommend, we also look to the experience and record of each candidate, as much as is available. A desire has grown in recent years to put new leaders in office, often simply because they’re new and different than the old leaders. While we don’t hesitate to recommend a changing and renewing of the guard when necessary, we still believe that experience in navigating government and public life is a valuable resource that should not be discounted. It’s for precisely this reason that we often suggest to losing candidates that they seek positions instead on city committees or commissions, to build up the knowledge base and experience that will make them more appealing the next time around.
We are certain that not all of you will agree with our assessments of our area’s leaders and would-be leaders. We don’t expect you to. Instead, we hope you take these recommendations as another piece of the puzzle as you head to the ballot box. If you read something you’re unsure of or concerned about, we encourage you to talk to the candidates themselves. All of them will likely be out beating the streets and appearing at local events in the next few days. Whatever your decision, in the end there’s really only one way to go wrong, and that’s not to vote at all.