Newspapers should make endorsements

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Newspapers, particularly newspapers in small communities, have a responsibility to be leaders.

As such, we believe part of our responsibility is to make endorsements for candidates.

We approached this process &8212; and, indeed, our coverage of the current mayoral campaign &8212; knowing how important this election is for Natchez&8217;s future.

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For the past four years Natchez has been at a standstill. The leadership void, coupled with the economic downturn, has fostered apathy about city government.

But we believe this election could begin to set things right again. We have three candidates who, as we&8217;ve said, will make history no matter who wins: a woman, a black man or a political independent.

But we should all look deeper than those superficialities to determine the best leader.

The editorial board did not take the endorsement process, nor the responsibility, lightly.

Many people &8212; often journalists themselves &8212; ask why a newspaper endorses particular candidates in an election.

The short answer, as a fellow journalist said, is &8220;someone&8217;s gotta do it.&8221;

The long answer is a bit more nuanced but no less straight forward.

The newspaper is and should be a leader in the community, and it is our responsibility on our editorial page to advocate for action on certain issues.

So it is also our responsibility in an election to endorse the candidates who can best lead the city and take action on those issues we believe are important.

We do not expect our readers to agree with or follow our endorsement, but we believe it is our right and our responsibility to step out and make a choice.

The endorsements during the primary and general election campaigns were made after extensive interviews with candidates, after weeks of covering the races and after careful deliberation.

The editorial board making the endorsements &8212; Publisher

Todd Carpenter

, Community Editor

Joan Gandy

and myself &8212; met with each candidate for in-depth, candid interviews on a variety of issues.

In each case, the interviews helped dispel some rumors about the candidates. Those face-to-face meetings, which lasted an hour and a half or more each time, showed us how important such direct communication with the candidates can be.

If you truly disagree with a particular candidate, I challenge you to sit with him or her, one on one, to exchange ideas and clear up your differences. You may not leave the room convinced to vote for the person, but you will certainly be better informed and better equipped to vote on Tuesday.

Whoever wins this election will likely be overwhelmed by the sheer number of issues, large and small, that must be addressed in the coming months.

From major improvements to our economic situation and our infrastructure to smaller decisions such as taking down billboards on Homochitto Street or putting tourist kiosks downtown, a long list of opportunities awaits the new mayor.

Therefore, whoever wins this election needs to have the backing of the entire community. We cannot make it past the difficult economic times we face without everyone working as a team.

We will not agree with every decision the next administration makes, and neither will voters. But we all have to work to do what is best for this community. We all must come together to make our future successful.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3541 or by e-mail at