Sara Rubin here, admiring the crisp ballot that arrived earlier this week in my mailbox. Election Day for the primary is just a few weeks away, June 7. (All registered California voters should have received a vote-by-mail ballot; you can still choose to vote in person, but this is one of those silver linings of the pandemic—keeping a practice that makes it easier for more people to vote. I’m also psyched that vote-by-mail ballots are now also accompanied by “I Voted” stickers.)
To coincide with the start of voting, the Weekly’s endorsement issue was released today on newsstands. It’s a tradition here for our editorial board to interview candidates for local office, and to interview proponents/opponents of local ballot measures, and share our recommendations with voters.
I think readers are likely to already know who they want to elect to federal offices like president (not up for election this year) or Congress. If they don’t, there are party affiliations to help guide voters as to what their values and platforms are. But there are a host of influential—and nonpartisan—races at the local level that have a big and immediate impact on how we live. There’s both an intimacy to local elections (you’re voting for your neighbor!) and a sense of distance (there may be candidates you’ve never heard of, for offices you’ve never heard of, for instance). Part of our hope is to illuminate for the public what responsibilities accompany these offices.
After a few years of doing endorsement interviews, I’ve found the process refreshing, especially in an increasingly cynical political environment. Candidates are mostly sincere about their desire to improve the community they live in. While they might have different ideas about how to make that happen, their motivation is to make things better. Even for those candidates whose vision we disagree with: Thank you for presenting your vision, and for getting into the political fray.
This year’s slate of candidates was especially refreshing—in the crowded fields of six people running for District 2 county supervisor and four people running for sheriff, there are serious people with sophisticated ideas. It’s a nice change from years past where politics and mudslinging have sometimes taken a front seat to campaign platforms.
(In these crowded races, a candidate can win outright in June if they get more than 50 percent of the vote; otherwise it will go to a runoff between the top two vote-getters in November.)
Our endorsement process has historically included in-person interviews. As we return from pandemic restrictions, this time around it included a mix of in-person interviews, Zoom interviews and email questionnaires. It also includes our reporting on candidates’ records and other accomplishments.
It’s a process that we take seriously, and hope provides a public service. It’s also a process that used to be widespread in the newspaper world and has over time diminished. According to Editor & Publisher Magazine, just 13 percent of newspapers did not make presidential endorsements in 1940; in 1996, that figure climbed to 70 percent.
We know you may not agree with our endorsements, and as always, I encourage you to write in with your perspective; you can email email@example.com any time, or post comments on our website (there, you won’t encounter the same space constraints). Whether you agree or disagree with our endorsements, I encourage you to participate: Please vote.