Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mini-endorsement season

Considering the parade of presidential candidates visiting the tri-state area (at least the Iowa portion), it could be easy to overlook the fact that there will be an election even before the Iowa caucuses — whenever those are finally scheduled — and the major votes of 2008.

On Nov. 6, Iowans will elect city council members.

While the 2007 general election doesn’t attract the media attention or voter interest of campaigns for the White House, Congress or governor’s mansion, local representation is important nonetheless.

In advance of the Dubuque City Council election, the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board is publishing endorsement editorials on the three races, 2nd Ward, 4th Ward and at-large.

The endorsements are based on our evaluation of the candidates’ qualifications, track record and positions on (and articulation of) the issues. This review usually includes interviews with candidates; this year, editorial board subcommittees met with each person running in the Dubuque general election.

Endorsement editorials usually spark some protest — usually from those who disagree with the opinion expressed. The complaint is along the lines of, “A newspaper has no business telling people how to vote.”

Throughout their history, newspapers have published editorials, which reflect the institutional opinion of ownership or its designee (in our case, the TH Editorial Board). The editorials’ purpose is not so much to cause people to take a particular action or hold a certain opinion (though we do hope the editorials do have some influence), but primarily to stimulate debate, discussion and personal evaluation on issues of community importance.

We hope that voters will consider what we have to say about the candidates, just as they might weigh endorsements from their civic groups, labor organization or next-door neighbor. But ultimately we hope that they do their own research on the candidates and cast an informed vote on election day.

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