Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Local candidate endorsements play integral role in political process

Writing COURIER endorsements for political candidates is serious business. It’s where a community newspaper (and website) can have an impact in selecting community leadership.

Our previous publisher Martin Weinberger, was also a political activist who made sure all voices where heard during the election process. He went on to not only endorse local candidates, but those running for state and national positions, including propositions, all the way to the presidency. When there were numerous races and issues to vote on, it was not uncommon to see Claremonters carrying the COURIER to the voting booth.

Martin was also very particular about doing his research on people running for office, and for local elections, was less concerned about party affiliation, focusing more on the right people for the job.That approach and philosophy continues today as the COURIER staff endorses three candidates for the November 5 school board election.

The process is quite simple, yet we try to take the extra step. On October 22, the editorial staff set up interviews with all 5 candidates. After much discussion beforehand, we settled on 3 key questions that would be asked to each candidate. There were also two additional questions tailored for each individual.

Asking the same questions to five people in one day can really be an eye opener, and is great for making comparisons. Each person answers questions differently, even when giving a similar answer. This makes it easier to get a sense how they carry themselves, the passion in their beliefs, how their life experiences will help them excel, and quite frankly, whether they are educated on the issues.
After the sessions were over, we reviewed our notes and discussed if there was agreement on how to support. This year was particularly difficult because all candidates offered something unique, while clearly being committed in helping Claremont schools.

The next day, before making any final decisions, we attended one of the candidate forums for the public. This gave us a chance to see how they dealt with the public, and each other. It was important to see how they interact as a group since 60 percent of the future school board sat in front of us.
There were no fireworks, but again, we left impressed with the entire group.

Loaded with all this information, from one-on-one, to a public group setting, the COURIER staff arrived at endorsement choices.

The process of writing an endorsement can be tedious since it goes through so many edits. We want the wording to be just right, with a focus on the positive.

We think this was accomplished.

The good news for city residents is whoever wins the race for school board on Tuesday, will excel at representing Claremont.

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