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Support weighed carefully

October 18, 2009
By PATRICIA J. BECK, Publisher

This week, The Leader-Herald will begin running its endorsements of political candidates running for councilman-at- large and mayoral seats in the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown.

For decades, there have been papers written, studies done and opinions expressed on the necessity of such endorsements.

As a community newspaper, The Leader-Herald strongly believes it is part of our responsibility to not only be a part of our communities by providing daily news coverage of local elected officials and their job accomplishments, but to work to help improve our communities.

How do we make the endorsement decisions?

First, and most importantly, by providing the news coverage of incumbents while in office. Through coverage of meetings, issues and elected individuals daily, weekly and monthly, we keep readers, as well as ourselves, informed every day, and not just in the weeks or months before an election. Through coverage and editorials, we provide a record of elected officials' public job performances. We provide data that is looked at before, during and after an election. We base a number of questions on such information.

Each announced candidate is invited to our office for an interview with our team of editors before we decide on an endorsement.

We do not base our decisions on party affiliation, or if we know their relatives, have gone to school with the person, if they have lived here for decades or because they are just nice people. We reach our decisions based on answers that are given to questions regarding local issues. We also consider candidates' qualifications, experience and accomplishments.

We endorse candidates to give readers more information and perspective on which to base their decisions, and to create discussion and encourage voter turnout.

Our endorsements are not made to tell readers whom they should vote for or to make any promises to any candidate.

It's unfortunate that many newspapers have decided editorial endorsements are a waste of their time. Consider the irony that local editorials frequently urge government bodies to take action, or take officials to task for lack of action, resulting in instrumental changes. I must ask the question, "Shouldn't newspapers have equally strong convictions about the people who will ultimately make those decisions?" My point is one of our roles is to be a local and state government watchdog. Therefore, endorsing candidates for elected bodies is a major responsibility of The Leader-Herald.



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