We hope our work may help youPublished 12:24am Sunday, April 22, 2012
In approximately one week, this newspaper’s editorial board will publish its endorsements for the City of Natchez’s municipal primary elections.
Perhaps today is as good a time as any to explain why we feel it’s a good idea for the newspaper to endorse candidates in the first place.
Critics of endorsements — particularly candidates who aren’t endorsed — suggest the practice is simply about the newspaper staff’s collective ego or a feeling that our opinions are somehow “better” than someone else’s opinion.
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
The goal of endorsing is simply to provide another avenue of information and provide a service for readers in our community.
The newspaper’s staff is able to do something that many voters may be unable to do — dedicate a great deal of time to meeting with each and every candidate to learn their beliefs, personalities and goals for public office.
Over the past two weeks, our editorial board — Ben Hillyer, Julie Cooper and me — have spent approximately 20 hours sitting face to face with each of the primary race candidates for mayor, aldermen and city clerk.
Candidates are willing to spend their time with us because they’re interested in getting their message out to as many potential voters as possible.
A recent independent survey showed more than 80 percent of local residents read The Democrat in print or online each week.
Clearly, candidates try to get in front of potential voters in a myriad of ways.
They use advertising, word of mouth, telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, public appearances, mail-outs and lately social media.
But in almost all of those avenues, the candidates are controlling the message — and clearly they want to only focus on their positive traits and avoid tougher questions.
Our staff asks candidates the tough questions and challenges them on their records.
The Democrat has endorsed in most local elections for years and years.
Through the years we’ve learned some interesting things in the process — often details about a candidate’s character through things that may not be public knowledge.
For example, years ago, we learned that a candidate was bouncing checks all over town, all while running for a public office with the responsibility of accounting for taxpayer funds.
The man’s personal financial record wasn’t public knowledge. Our staff confirmed the bad check track record through multiple sources and thus it became a factor in our decision not to endorse him.
Similarly, each year the endorsement interviews wind up revealing interesting things about candidates.
While political campaign advertising often focuses only on a portion of the truth — whether about the candidate or, in the case of mudslinging, their opponents — we’re able to address all angles of the issues.
Hopefully, at the end of the day, our endorsements may help people a little bit, particularly if readers realize that despite the political differences that nearly everyone has, we ultimately all want what’s best for Natchez.
We believe the slate of candidates we endorse are the best options to lead the city in a positive, progressive and cooperative manner.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.