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posted: 3/3/2013 11:43 AM

Editorial: The meaning of our endorsements

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Beginning Monday, we will begin offering our endorsements in a number of the local elections that will be on the ballot on April 9.

But first, let's step back and provide a little perspective on the process, why we do it and how we hope the community benefits from the exercise. Some of what we say here may sound familiar. If it does, it's because we said many of the same things last October when we set the stage for our endorsements in last November's elections.

Just as we believe voting is a part of every citizen's obligation to the community, we believe that endorsements are part of our obligation. Those two obligations, in fact, are intertwined.

Obviously, when we endorse a candidate, or take a position on a referendum, we hope those stamps of approval or disapproval are factors in your decision about how to vote.

We expend a great deal of time, thought and energy into them. We feel an obligation not only to make them but to make them thoughtfully. Largely, the idea is to provide you with the benefit of the sometimes better access we have to the candidates and the political processes.

But that doesn't mean we know everything or that we view our endorsements as sacrosanct. The endorsements are made by a group of editors who are human, and like all humans, we're subject to our share of mistakes. There have been times, we must admit, when we later regret an endorsement we made -- just as, we suspect, there may have been times when you later regret a vote you cast.

Beyond that, many of our endorsements are extremely close calls. Especially in local races. So often, we find there are more good candidates running -- informed people who genuinely want to give back to their communities -- than there are positions being elected.

While it makes for difficult endorsements, that's obviously a good thing for all of us and speaks well of the wellspring of character and talent in the suburbs.

Meanwhile, our priority here isn't to influence your vote but rather to engage you and your neighbors in the process. To get our readers to think and debate. To get our readers to vote.

That's the linkage between our role in the democracy and yours, the linkage between our obligation to endorse and your obligation to vote.

Our endorsement, in the final analysis, is just an opinion. An informed one, we hope, but just that, an opinion. We view it ideally as one factor of many to consider in preparing to vote.

The real aim here is to spur voters to deliberate, to research, to accept the obligation of voting with seriousness of purpose.

We said it last October and it bears repeating: That seriousness of purpose, that's the key. That's how we all make for a better community and a better country -- a thoughtful partnership for the greater good.

Let's all put in the necessary work to make election day on April 9 the sacred holiday of democracy that it's meant to be.

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