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Chips & Chunks
Unless you’ve been hiding in one of Amir Minoofar’s underground storage caves in Bonner Springs, you are probably aware there are several important elections in Wyandotte County next Tuesday, April 2.
I’ve had several readers ask who we are going to endorse. They’re surprised to learn that we will not be endorsing anyone. It’s a family tradition that dates back to my parents’ purchase of their first newspaper in 1950.
You see, my father was a simple, hard-working fellow who didn’t have an ego. He also didn’t have a high school education. Dad was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known. Sure, he certainly had his opinions and often voiced them in the community and at the family dinner table.
He was proud of his beliefs and the processes of reading, investigation and study that helped him form them.
But no ego. He was usually embarrassed and ashamed when he saw his fellow newspaper publishers make (to them) weighty endorsements of individual candidates in elections. “What makes them think they’re so smart?” he’d exclaim, “And where do they get the idea that their opinion is any better than anyone else’s? Or even wanted?”
But there were very important things that my father thought newspaper publishers should do. In fact, there was an affirmative obligation to fulfill three critical roles in the community:
(1) Always be a trusted source of truly local information
(2) Always be a guardian of the public interest
(3) Always provide a forum for public discourse
Those three values are at the core of our community media business today.
Instead of telling citizens our ego-driven opinion about which candidates to vote for, we make every effort to provide voters with relevant information so that each voter can make up their own minds. In this edition and in prior issues, as well as online, Editor Mary Rupert has done a superb job of compiling the responses of all of Tuesday’s candidates.
For the record, we do not show such restraint in investigating and commenting on matters of public policy. We are inclined to investigate wrong-doing and malfeasance wherever and whenever it exists.
We also strongly believe there is a major affirmative duty for voters to take time to learn about candidates and vote for those individuals who best represent their wishes. Unfortunately, low voter turnout and uninformed voting will likely be key determinants of Tuesday’s results.
My own informal polling tells me that more citizens can tell you who won “Dancing with the Stars” this week than who they will see on Tuesday’s ballots.
A final note about editorials, government critique and politics. Even though our own policies will not permit us to endorse candidates, you can rest assured that once elected, we consider their actions, policies and pronouncements in their roles as public officials fair game for evaluation, critique and public commentary. We are, after all, guardians of the public interest. That’s more important to us than trying to stroke our own egos or those of others.
Richard Ward is the publisher of Wyandotte Daily News.