Editorial board to offer recommendations in two city races

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Column by Ben Sheroan

By Ben Sheroan

A fter investing more than 12 hours in interviews, research and debate, The News-Enterprise’s editorial board will seek to provide some pre-election insight for local residents later this week.

On Thursday, recommendations for Radcliff City Council will be published, followed in Friday’s editions by a similar editorial regarding Elizabethtown City Council.

This exercise is a detailed one. The six staff members involved in the process do not always agree. But dissent is welcomed in this process. It leads to greater analysis and examination of the candidates and the issues. It produces a better, more thoughtful editorial.

Because of time involved, potential conflicts or work restrictions, the editorial board’s two community members were excused from the interviews and decision-making process yet monitor and contribute to some parts of the debate.

This process is not designed to predict or to direct the result of the Nov. 6 local elections. It’s been said by some previous candidates that it seemingly can have the opposite impact.

The recommendations simply are an attempt to reach a well-researched, measured and intelligent list of the best among the best who have offered themselves for public service.

Voters are encouraged to use these recommendations to stimulate their own thinking or to stir conversation with friends, colleagues and neighbors.

The editorial board will tell you what its members think, not how you should think. No preaching here.

Like every election, voters who go to the polls have a huge responsibility and potential voters who stay away should be willing to accept blame for any community shortcoming.

Some people will take issue with these recommendations. That’s a good thing, really. While they are not offered to cause discord, an effective editorial should stimulate thought to improve the community discourse. Because of the passion related to local elections, some will disagree and disagree strongly.

All participants will be offered an opportunity for a published rebuttal. Of course, signed letters from their supporters also are welcome.

Occasionally, someone will take issue with whether the newspaper should offer this perspective. It is not part of our objective news coverage but a consensus opinion clearly labeled as an editorial on the Opinion page. Because of the newspaper’s position of responsibility in the community and the extensive reach of our product, the editorial board can gain exceptional access to candidates and delve into meaningful discussions about the topics influencing our communities.

Few voters have the time or the desire to schedule 18 individual meetings with these candidates but last week we made time for it on your behalf.

The newspaper also declines to share uninformed opinions for which it has little or no special access. That’s why most editorials on all topics are distinctly local and it’s why no recommendation will appear regarding the presidential election.

As I explained two years ago, The News-Enterprise and our corporate parents have stern policies prohibiting employees from taking part in political campaigns or showing support of a candidate or political position to protect the public’s confidence in the integrity of our news and advertising services. No yard signs, no bumper stickers and no working for a candidate.

In that vein, these two editorial recommendations are not formal endorsements but suggestions for voters to consider.

When voters invest time to analyze each person on the ballot and delve beyond pleasantries, political signs and friendships, I believe candidates must step up their game. Time and effort invested by voters raise expectations which results more time and hard work from candidates.

If you want the next cast of the local city councils to be on their toes, let’s challenge each other to join in the research of the candidates and their views before Nov. 6.

Personally, the process is quite stimulating. Hopefully, your input and participation in these key city decisions will be as well.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.