Forum will meet with candidates
It's election time in Fargo and West Fargo. As has been our practice for 20 years, The Forum Editorial Board will invite candidates in competitive races in for a chat. It's a chance to get reacquainted with incumbents and meet newcomers. It's a m...
It's election time in Fargo and West Fargo. As has been our practice for 20 years, The Forum Editorial Board will invite candidates in competitive races in for a chat. It's a chance to get reacquainted with incumbents and meet newcomers. It's a major part of our comprehensive assessment of candidates prior to writing endorsement editorials in the run-up to Election Day in June.
I've received inquiries from a few campaigns about the when and where of endorsement meetings. We'll set up a schedule soon and contact the candidates. We know most of them have jobs and businesses which demand their attention, so we'll be flexible in scheduling our meetings at The Forum.
The endorsement discussions are one factor in our endorsement equation. The Forum's news profiles of the candidates, which include answers to a specific set of questions, figure in. Most of the candidates have records of public service, which can tell us a lot about how they will perform in public office. The Editorial Board meeting is their opportunity to discuss candidly their positions on public policy issues facing the boards they want to join: city, schools, parks.
Of course, it's a candidate's option to respond to our invitation. Our purpose is informational, not confrontational. The more we know about a candidate's views, the better we can judge fitness for public office relative to other candidates.
We take the process seriously and devote a lot of time and resources to it. After all, the record shows that The Forum's endorsement can make a difference in local races.
Local campaigns have become more sophisticated, more organized than in the past. After some 20 years of covering city elections, I can gauge the change by letters to the editor, many of which are the result of organized letter-writing campaigns. I assume letter writers engaged in such schemes are sincere in their support for their candidates, even if they aren't very original.
We try to run all of them, including those from the candidates themselves. I say "try" because space limits the number of letters we publish every day. During an election cycle we devote more column inches to campaign letters and political commentaries, but we still have to make room for non-political submissions.
So, keep those letters and commentaries coming in, but understand not every one that reaches the newsroom will be published.
One of the more gratifying things about my job is meeting candidates for public office. With a few exceptions, they are motivated by a sense of service to the people of their cities, park districts and school districts. They put themselves out there in competitive races that sometimes get nasty. They aren't in it for the money, but rather to work to make their communities better places to live, work and play.
Candidates have to parry reporters' questions. Frankly, some of the questions are stupid and asked more to impress media colleagues than to elicit information from a candidate. But that's part of campaigning. Most candidates are tolerant of media excess and gracious with their responses, even when graciousness is not the sentiment most people would summon up.
Again, with few exceptions, the people running for local elected offices are good citizens looking to do good work in their communities. One of the privileges of my job is to talk with them.
Zaleski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 241-5521.