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Our endorsements

October 13, 2006

Beginning Sunday, The Herald-Mail will begin running its candidate endorsements for the 2006 elections.

In a departure from what we've done in previous years, the endorsements will not all run on the same day, but will be printed one-by-one, with no more than one per day on this page.

We're doing this in part to allow readers more time to consider each endorsement, instead of tossing a great big package at them on one day.

We also believe this will give those candidates who are not endorsed a chance to rebut our thoughts.

In every election year, we are asked why The Herald-Mail endorses candidates. It is not because we believe we are infallible and all-wise.

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But we have interviewed the candidates, reviewed the actions of incumbents for their past terms and participated in forums where those running for office are asked questions on a public stage.

In other words, we have done the homework and based on the study we have done, we offer our opinions. We do not pretend that our opinions are the only ones.

They aren't. In fact, we would worry if some readers didn't analyze our endorsement of one candidate or another and tell us - and other readers - why we are in error.

That's a good thing. The Founding Fathers believed that if ideas were allowed to compete in the marketplace, the citizens would recognize which ones were best and act accordingly.

What do we look for in a candidate? Candidates ought to have common sense, but not try to substitute that for research into complicated topics, such as sewer capacity.

Good candidates should have been involved in a public cause, whether it was raising funds or leading a volunteer group. Dealing with volunteers is a lot like dealing with citizens; you're not paying them, so you have to persuade them that what you're proposing is the right course.

Candidates should be willing to spend some time educating the public after they're elected. Government is complicated today, but if all that voters hear is that any new expenditures are a waste of money, they won't even support spending on items that ultimately will benefit them.

But the best candidates are the ones who realize that at the local level, few elected officials can accomplish much without help from their colleagues or from members of other elected bodies.

Beware the quarrelsome candidate who wants to storm the barricades alone. That kind of thinking may provide material for a few campaign speeches, but it usually doesn't get much accomplished.

We invite readers to comment of the process by contacting us at the addresses below. Candidates will be given first shot at available space, which we will do our best to fill with campaign-related material until the last election-related letters run on Sunday, Nov. 5.

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