Gazette endorsements in Tuesday's elections start today
I'll be surprised if, sometime today, my office phone doesn't ring at least once and, on the other end, some voter in the Parkview School District gives me an earful. That person will be critical of today's Gazette editorial that endorses “yes” votes in both parts of Tuesday's Parkview referendum.
I understand that cash-strapped taxpayers will be upset, and that many residents think a Janesville newspaper has some gall to suggest how people out in that district west of Janesville should invest their money in Parkview education. Besides, many people think newspapers have no business endorsing any candidates or referendums in elections today.
But recommending candidates for office is a tradition as old as the newspaper industry itself. Gazette owner Sidney “Skip” Bliss is a staunch believer that this is the duty of any good newspaper, and our editorial board, made up of seven members, takes the job seriously. We interview candidates in the races in which we endorse. I spent time this week in Orfordville and Footville, touring Parkview's school buildings and quizzing officials.
A colleague in the Association of Opinion Journalists said it best: Why should newspapers print editorials that recommend how elected leaders should vote on controversial issues all year, but then sit out the decision when it comes time to elect those leaders? That wouldn't make sense. As long as Skip Bliss owns this newspaper, I believe we'll always endorse candidates for office.
When those calls come today, I'll also remember a statement from a fellow newspaper editor, a quote that I once had taped to my desk. It said something to the effect that if a newspaper doesn't anger readers from time to time, it's not doing its job.
In Saturday's Gazette, we'll endorse three of the four candidates in the Janesville City Council race. On Sunday, we'll recommend three of the five candidates in the Janesville School Board election. Like the Parkview editorial, those will be posted online those days.
As journalists, we get access to the candidates and officials that the average reader cannot match. For weeks leading up to the election, we've given time and space to printing many letters from readers who wanted to share their views about issues and candidates in Tuesday's elections. Now it's time to share our views with you. We're not telling you how to vote; we're only making recommendations. We only hope you'll consider them along with much of the information available about candidates and referendums in Tuesday's elections. Then form your own opinions and decisions. Take time to vote, but please do so as an informed citizen.