Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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From the Newsroom: How we do our part to help voters

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Are you ready for the November election? If not, it’s time to prepare. According to Clark County Elections office, the ballots will be mailed on Friday, so you may cast your vote as soon as a week from today.

While most of us probably won’t fill out our ballots for a couple of weeks, we’ve been working hard in the newsroom for more than a month to give you what you need to know when it is time to vote. If you want to see everything we’ve done, be sure to check out our elections page, columbian.com/election.

There is a lot to decide. I counted 30 different races and measures in my suburban precinct, and it looks like there are 56 different things to be voted upon somewhere in Clark County.

We make a particular effort to write about state and local races, where it is harder to know much about the candidates and their issues. You already have a lot of information on Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but you probably don’t hear much about Hilary Franz and Sue Kuehl Pederson, the candidates for state commissioner of public lands. But that job — which includes wildfire suppression and managing property to raise funds for public schools — is very important to Washingtonians.

Our coverage of elections and issues comes from two directions.

First, we are writing news stories based on interviews with the candidates. These stories explore each candidate’s background and positions on the issues. There are also stories about fundraising, polls and other topics related to candidates and campaigns. These news stories are written by our reporters (usually Calley Hair, who covers politics, city and state government) and edited by the metro desk.

Deciding on endorsements

We are also busy on the editorial page. The editorial board has conducted 14 interviews with candidates for state and local public office since the August primary, and three more interviews are set for next week.

We use the information to make endorsements, in an effort to give you, our reader, the benefit of an informed opinion. Do with it as you wish!

Candidate interviews are conducted by the editorial board, which consists of Editorial Page Editor Greg Jayne, three members of the Campbell family and myself.

We try to interview both candidates together so they can react to what their opponent is saying. The interviews are all “on the record,” and a reporter, usually Calley, often sits in to report on the meeting. Afterward, the board meets privately to arrive at a consensus — but not always unanimous — opinion.

All of the interviews are recorded and presented on our elections page and YouTube channel. Because we try to keep the news and opinion separated, we present our endorsements on a different page, columbian.com/news/opinion/endorsements.

By the way, we won’t be making an endorsement in this year’s presidential race. We don’t have any special insight into Trump or Biden, and neither candidate is emphasizing issues specific to our region. Although we have made endorsements in this race in the past, including in 2016, I don’t see why our view would be any more informed than others you can find out there.

Although some of our critics claim we only endorse Democrats, that’s not true. We’ve endorsed at least six Republicans, with more endorsements to come.

It does appear, however, that we are fond of incumbents. So far we’ve endorsed at least 11 incumbents, compared with only two challengers. I think there is a little of the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at work here, along with the fact that most of our elected officials are honest and try hard to do a good job.

What this really gets down to is providing information so that voters and make an informed decision when they cast their ballots. By talking to candidates and doing some basic research, we do some of that work for you, the voter, so that you can make your own informed decision.

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