Newspaper must have a voicePublished 12:46am Sunday, October 28, 2012
Voting for the men and women who will lead our community, our state and our nation is perhaps one of the most personal things a citizen will do, made very impersonal by the barrage of “experts” telling them what to do.
In just more than a week, Lawrence County citizens will go to the polls to make some very important decisions. By now everyone has likely had election overload, having been bombarded by information and propaganda.
The Tribune doesn’t want to pile on but we feel we have a responsibility to serve as an informed voice in the community. One way to do that is through political endorsements.
This is not always a popular role because some people don’t feel the newspaper should take a stand on this important process.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Any newspaper should be an active leader in its community by reporting the news but also by pushing for accountability, progress and positive change. That is where a strong Opinion page can make a difference, asking people to think about the world around us.
One component of that is holding elected officials accountable by offering praise when it is earned, input when it is appropriate and constructive criticism when it is necessary.
These principles don’t change, regardless of whether you are the smallest of newspapers that covers a singular community, or the massive metropolitan ones that cover the world.
So, if we are going to have a voice on the decisions made by our elected officials, how can we, in good conscience, not weigh in on who is elected in the first place?
The answer is we can’t.
Newspapers that opt not to endorse are either too afraid to get involved or not confident enough in their role in the community to overcome the fears they may make someone angry.
The Tribune’s approach, for at least the past decade, has been that we must do this. Usually those who object only do so if they or their candidate don’t get an endorsement. So they are truly upset with result not the process.
In the end, The Tribune’s editorial board endorsements aren’t telling you for whom you should vote. Our endorsements are simply highlighting who we think would do the best job representing Lawrence County in the particular elected position.
Our board — made up of the leadership team listed on the bottom of this page — meets with each candidate to get a feel for who they are, what they bring to the table and what they would do if elected. We then weigh that with news coverage, campaign material, advertisements and prior records to make a decision.
With all that said, The Tribune will endorse in four races this year: 90th District State Representative, 93rd District State Representative and the two contested county commission races. Those will be published next Wednesday and Thursday.
We have already weighed in by saying State Issue 2 isn’t the answer for drawing Ohio’s political districts. We will also take a position on the City of Ironton’s recreation levy on Friday.
We chose not to endorse in local races that are unopposed or that are largely administrative such as the treasurer’s race. You also won’t see an endorsement for the Congressional or Presidential races.
Why? Because these races go beyond what we feel we can do best — talk intelligently about the needs of Lawrence County — and we don’t believe we can offer the same level of informed opinion.
These national positions have the responsibility to make decisions that impact way beyond just our region and the varied needs may not always be consistent with one another. It would be irresponsible for us to apply our hyper-local focus to trying to determine who is the best candidate on this scale.
Are these other races important? Absolutely, but it is up to voters to look at how they feel candidates would impact our region, the rest of their constituency and the entire nation.
Regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with our endorsements, we hope that every Lawrence Countian exercises his or her right to vote for the men and women who are tasked with keeping our great democracy functioning as it was intended.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.