Election season is approaching. Sometimes it feels like it’s coming on very slow; sometimes way too fast. Oops, it’s already here. We feel the need to pace ourselves and to remind candidates and supporters of some news and Open Forum rules and customs.

Candidates can start officially filing for election in about a month and have up until Dec. 6 to declare (a bit longer if they’re running for an office for which the incumbent is not running). Ballots go out in the mail around the first of February; Election Day is March 3.

It promises to be a boisterous election cycle.

We intend to participate in a thorough round of candidate forums and perhaps some roundtable discussions – maybe in late December and through January. The Appeal will also plan on running candidate questionnaires.

In the meantime, we’re happy to have our Forum page used to explore the election issues. Since there’s an opponent for just about every candidate, we just want to make sure the rules are clear for all sides.

– We will begin printing candidacy announcements as they come in and somewhat at our leisure. Announcements should be kept as succinct as possible. We will rewrite and edit them down to size and to fit our readers’ needs. Generally, we believe a candidate announcement story can be told in about 300 words, with exceptions possible, of course. We’re interested in information about who a candidate is, the candidate’s relevant experience and qualifications, a couple top priorities for the job, and a line or two about family. 

We will print mug shots of candidates if we have them on file or if they are provided by candidates.

– In the past, we declined to print letters to the editor about candidates and ballot issues. That’s no longer strictly the case, though there are some restrictions.

Letters must adhere to the usual rules – up to 490 words, once a month per writer, written by a local resident or pertaining to a local issue. 

They cannot be merely campaign pieces, endorsements or attacks. They need to be about issues that candidates should be considering. Letter writers can succinctly report how a candidate treats an issue, but mustn’t campaign. Candidates themselves can also submit letters under the same rules. At some point before balloting, we will quit accepting letters to the editor concerning candidates and ballot issues.

We won’t accept long columns from candidates or their supporters.

– In the past, the Appeal printed any endorsements that came in – sometimes as brief news stories, sometimes as letters to the editor. Now days, generally, we only run them as paid advertising. We think it’s great if you want to endorse someone or if you’ve gotten someone’s endorsement, but we consider it marketing, not news. There could be, on rare occasion an exception (when, for instance, a retiring incumbent announces an endorsement for a replacement).

– Meet-and-greets, fundraisers and candidate rallies are considered marketing, so must be paid advertising. Simple announcements that a candidate(s) will be speak at a wide-open event can run as calendar items.

– Every once in a while we get calls from a candidate or campaign manager who wants to time an announcement or news release or letter to the editor so it coincides with their media buys. That’s something the news department cannot accommodate.

– In a few weeks, we’ll be opening a survey seeking questions and concerns that we should be putting before candidates. We’ll use those questions for forums and for the questionnaires we send out. Candidates should make sure we have their active email addresses.

Thanks.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal–Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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