AMONGST ALL the other awesome content in this week's issue, Jessica Leigh Lebos and I continue our "Challenge 2015" series of interviews with candidates taking on incumbents in this year's City elections.
As you might expect, we're getting a bit of pushback from incumbents who are demanding "equal time." I understand their frustration, and I also have an answer. The name of the series of course should say it all: Yes, we are only talking to the challengers this year.
We are only talking to challengers for the following reasons:
1) We have concluded that the vast bulk of our readers agree there is a dire need for change and new blood. We are the local alt-weekly and as such represent the alternative to the mainstream. The logical first step in bringing change is to vote against incumbents in this year's election. And in many cases you have several challengers from which to choose.
2) The City has its own webpage defending incumbents. On the taxpayer-funded City government site, specifically at www.savannahga.gov/facts, you'll find a new page of Frequently Asked Questions timed to coincide with election season and addressing some specific issues which have become bones of contention.
I'm not a lawyer, but it doesn't pass the smell test for me that taxpayers would have to pay for campaign propaganda supporting the record and platforms of current elected and appointed officials.
Does it pass the smell test for you?
3) We have limited resources. We have a very dedicated and capable, but also very small, staff. Frankly it's a minor miracle for us to even manage to talk to all the challengers, especially given the sheer number of them (itself another indicator proving point Number One above).
I'd love to have four or five more reporters. I'd love to have a lot of things I'm not going to get. It is what it is.
All that leads us to the obvious next question: Will Connect endorse specific candidates? That answer is no.
Since coming into this job about 15 years ago I've had a blanket policy of not endorsing specific local candidates for office.
My reasons are:
1) We believe our readers are capable of coming to their own informed conclusions about which specific candidates to vote for.
My personal editorial philosophy is always to encourage 1) civic responsibility and 2) critical thinking skills. I don't presume to tell our readers how to vote.
We aren't a general interest publication and our readers aren't run-of-the-mill. We assume a higher level of engagement.
2) Endorsements are obsolete. In 2015 it's not only old-fashioned for media to advise their audience on how to vote, it's actually pretty counterproductive.
Think about it: How many times have you used a particular media endorsement against a particular candidate?
I do understand and appreciate that some might not agree with my policies in this area. But they are what they are.
And in any event given the issues we're facing, I think we all have more important things to worry about. cs