It was just about a year ago when I brought the idea of expanding The Post-Star editorial board to our then-publisher, Terry Coomes.
I had some trepidation, I told her.
If we added two more citizen representatives to the one already serving, the citizen representatives would have an equal voice in the stands we take.
The counter argument was they would also share equal blame.
More than once this year when our editorial board was labeled the “liberal” media and accused of bias, I pointed out that we had three citizen representatives who were independent of the newspaper. If anyone thought there was bias, I encouraged them to talk to any of the citizen representatives and ask about the process.
The other concern was whether anyone would want to sign up for a year-long term.
It turns out they did.
A half-dozen or so former citizen representatives who had served four-month terms in years past volunteered to come back. All were great candidates who had brought a great deal to the table before. In the end, instead of interviewing them all again, we put their names in a hat and drew out two names.
For the past 11 months, Dan Gealt and George Nelson have been making the trek to our office each Wednesday morning to talk about local issues and what to do about them.
There were many meetings where the citizen representatives outnumbered those of us who draw a Post-Star paycheck.
It worked out just fine.
George and Dan became important contributors to the process and staples in our newsroom.
The original concept for our editorial board was for each of three citizen representatives to serve a four-month term each year. There was never supposed to be more than one citizen representative on the board at any one time. Often, just when they were getting comfortable, their term was up.
That was not a problem for Dan and George. Having served before, they knew what to expect from the beginning, and over the course of this year, they became part of our team that featured three citizen representatives.
George always waited until the end of the meeting before bringing up his weekly concern.
Dan was the nitpicker who would suggest different words in editorials — usually better words — and always found the typo that we had missed.
They were active, idea-oriented and not afraid to ask questions when we interviewed political candidates.
They both will be missed.
We are looking again for two citizen representative veterans to serve on our editorial board for all of 2018. We’re hoping that some of those who applied last year will volunteer again.
We’ve been using citizen representatives for more than 10 years now. I recently started compiling a list of those who had served. We’ve been lucky to get such a great group of volunteers from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Board candidates should be able to attend one morning meeting a week and be engaged in local news and issues. If you are interested in making a return engagement, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a little background about when you served and what you are doing now.
For those of you who have never served but are interested, we will be looking for new candidates in the spring.