The original concept was to give community-minded readers a peek into how the newspaper’s editorial board operated by making them members.
That was 10 years ago.
We selected three different citizen representatives a year to serve four-month terms and act as full-fledged voting members of the board.
The feedback from the citizen representatives was that they enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about journalism and newspapers. But they also complained the time was too short. They said they were just starting to feel comfortable when their term was up.
So last year, we decided to create two more citizen representative positions with a one-year commitment each.
Our one requirement was that you had to have previously served on the board. We looked at it as an apprenticeship of sorts and it’s a select group of about 30.
We got about six volunteers last December. All had been outstanding members of our board, so we put their names in a hat and picked two — Dan Gealt and George Nelson.
The two of them are completing their one-year terms at the end of the month. They have been committed and involved and not afraid to voice their opinions. You will probably hear more from them later.
During the election season, they had the opportunity to take part in 39 editorial endorsement meetings.
A few weeks ago, we asked for more volunteers to serve one-year terms in 2018. We got about six volunteers again. Since our editorial board had changed so much over the years — I am the only original member from when we first invited citizen representatives — we invited each candidate in for a chat.
All were engaged, concerned about the community and had an intimate understanding of what the job entailed. The hard part was choosing just two.
What we looked for were two individuals who had different life experiences that would complement those of us who work here.
I am happy to announce that Carol Merchant and Eric Mondschein, both of Queensbury, will be joining our editorial board the first week of January. Carol served on the board in 2011, while Eric served in 2009.
We think both fit the bill, but honestly, any of the candidates would have worked out well.
They will join our current board of Publisher Rob Forcey, Controller/Operations Manager Brian Corcoran, Projects Editor Will Doolittle, citizen representative Patricia Crayford (who will be serving through March) and myself.
Carol grew up locally, went to school in Queensbury and eventually moved back here. She spent most of her career in financial services after co-founding TV Data in 1974. She retired from UBS in 2009, but she has remained active, serving on a variety of boards including the Conkling Center, the Glen at Hiland Meadows and the Lake George Club, where she is currently first vice president.
Eric moved to the region in 2006. He has taught law and education while publishing numerous articles and books in both fields. He has worked for the U.S. government in various capacities and directed an award-winning education program at the New York State Bar Association. He also served as an advier in external affairs, security, government relations and human rights for an international non-governmental organization while living in Haifa, Israel.
I’ve already warned both of them that the current political climate has made their roles on the editorial board a little more prominent than when they first served.
The citizen representatives have been invaluable to our organization over the past decade. We’ve learned from them and they have learned from us.
We hope it shows that we are comfortable having other community voices participate in solving the problems we all face.
We look forward to another challenging year.