Another heated political season appears to be ahead in the 21st Congressional District.
Covering the relentless barrage of negative campaigning is not something we enjoy. In recent weeks, we have talked about how to better inform voters beyond the campaign rhetoric.
After some discussion, we established a policy focused entirely on the candidates and where they stand on the issues.
We will no longer quote campaign spokespeople or other representatives. We believe that newspapers like ourselves are too often used as the conduit for attacking the opposing candidate. If either candidate wants to criticize the other, we will report what they have to say, but we will not quote campaign henchmen. The candidate will have to do it directly.
We believe this is fair.
And while we realize that both candidates are busy people, our coalition with three other newspapers in the 21st Congressional District — Watertown Daily Times, Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Plattsburgh Press-Republican — allows us to exchange direct quotes from the candidates.
Often, political campaigns submit press releases to get out information. We use quotes from the candidates in press releases as well, but not from the spokespeople.
We expect there will be negative campaigning during the election season. If that is the strategy, that is fine, but each candidate should own that strategy and use their own words, not those of some hired gun.
Last Sunday, our editorial board asked congressional candidates Elise Stefanik and Tedra Cobb to conduct campaigns free of lying.
We published a poll on our website where over 80 percent of the respondents—there were less than 100—agreed with the position. It did make us wonder why 15 percent of the respondents would be in favor of politicians lying.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by our recent request for volunteers to serve on our editorial board.
We usually receive about a dozen applicants, often less, to fill the three four-month terms. But this time around, we received nearly 20 applicants.
The common theme is community service, with so many people looking to give back to the community. The applicants come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Most said they just want to be part of the process and see what it is like.
We’ve been asking readers to serve on our editorial board for more than 10 years. In that period, more than 40 have served. We currently have two citizen-representatives who serve a one-year term each as well as the three board members who serve four-month terms.