We launched our local election coverage this week with Q&A responses from two of the four candidates for county commissioner, and from the two candidates to represent the 12th Legislative District in Olympia. We’ll follow up with the other two county commissioner candidates next week, along with some additional election coverage.
Our goal was to get all the candidate stories into print before ballots go out at the end of the week, as many citizens will be voting early to make sure their ballots arrive in time and are counted. Without going into the mechanical logistics of how newspapers get printed, how we determine how many pages to print, or how we triage content, suffice it to say that we couldn’t make it all work this week and do justice to the candidates, or to the other newsworthy things going on around us. As it is, we had to hold some news stories for next week. But it’s good to have an inventory.
We chose to keep our elections focus intensely local, because we don’t have the resources to provide extensive coverage of statewide races or ballot measures. You can find plenty of information about those with a little effort, and the voters’ guide provides the information you can use to educate yourself about candidates and issues.
As usual — or perhaps, more than usual — it will take some personal dedication to be an informed voter. We hope the articles in this week’s paper, and next week’s, will help.
The questions we asked the candidates were ones we came up with ourselves, with an eye toward identifying issues and challenges that valley constituents are most interested in. We didn’t put word limits on the candidates’ responses, so we ended up with more material than we could shoehorn in. That required some judicious editing without diluting the candidates’ messages. Our intent is to post all the candidates’ complete responses to our questions on the Methow Valley News website, where space isn’t an issue.
I want to thank all the candidates for taking the time to thoughtfully answer the questions we posed. I’m sure they have a lot of similar requests from publications around the county and the region along with the usual demands of campaigning under coronavirus protocols.
However you feel about the candidates and the issues, or who you identify with, I think it’s fair to say that the responses we received were serious and respectful in tone. We’re not seeing much mudslinging (at least not in publicly visible ways) or ideological warfare. North Central Washington voters may stick to their partisan views, but they also know that the things that get acted on at a local level, in the county and the legislative district, will have meaningful impacts on their lives.
While the campaigning has been essentially courteous compared to what we’re seeing at the national level, in the valley and beyond we’re hearing reports about relentless vandalizing of campaign signs — overwhelmingly, those of Democratic candidates although some damage to Republican candidates’ signs has also been reported. Democrats are clearly being targeted. Draw your own conclusions as to what that says about the people doing the damage. I’d tell you my thoughts about them, but we’re a family newspaper.
We’ve also seen some anxiety about voting this year because of the president’s shameful lies about election fraud. (You may see terms like “baseless claim” or “said without evidence” used in other more-mannered publications. I prefer not to sugarcoat the truth. The president has lied loudly, often and maliciously in his effort to undermine confidence in our election process and democracy itself.)
Even in vote-by-mail Washington state, which has no history of election fraud, trust has been frayed to the point of paranoia in some cases. To help alleviate concerns as best we can, we asked County Auditor Cari Hall to explain the ballot collection process. She did that, in reassuring detail, in an article you’ll find on Page A1 this week. We can be confident that the process in Okanogan County is transparent and strictly devoted to the sanctity of the ballot. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take whatever steps you feel necessary to ensure that your vote is counted.
It’s been a long and exhausting election season, and most of us are ready for it to be over. But there are choices to be made, and we have the responsibility to make them. We hope our election coverage is useful to that end.