Behind the Curtain: The newspaper's role in election coverage

The local elections take place April 6.

Actually, with mail-in voting, they arrive in less than two weeks - March 10. Early in-person voting starts soon after that.

Which means our coverage is about to kick into high gear - both in print and

The national elections, with all their incessant noise and intensity, certainly create an exhausting, almost nonstop buzz, but the local elections are important too. In many ways, they affect us more directly.

What's going to happen to the site of Arlington Park? Washington's not going to have much to say about that. It's possible Springfield might end up being involved. But Mayor Tom Hayes and the people that are going to be elected to the village board are going to have the most impact.

There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth among national politicians about whether our schools are open or operating via remote or some combination of the two, about what they're doing to keep students safe and well educated. But it's the people on the local school boards who are the ones making the decisions.

Yes, the local races have a direct impact. In addition to elections on municipal and school levels, the parks, libraries and townships will have them too.

We've always felt a great obligation to provide you with useful information to help differentiate between the candidates.

We started publishing candidate profiles and Q & As last week. On, we've also begun posting video of Zoom interviews with the candidates. In the days ahead, we'll be doing more of both.

We don't imagine ourselves to be your sole source of information on the candidates. But we aim to be an important part of your research.

On Sunday, we introduced our first endorsements. We'll be making a lot more of those too.

Many newspapers have stopped making endorsements because of staff reductions and it's easier to skip them. But we still feel the obligation. Our number one job is to contribute to the healthy functioning of a democratic republic.

We don't view our endorsements as unassailable. We view them as a point to consider, an argument to weigh.

Even more, we view them as a means of spurring involvement and constructive public debate. That is one of our most important roles.

We put a lot of research into our endorsements. And we post most of our interviews on for you to see.

Frequently, our choices are tough calls, and when that's the case, we try to make that clear in the writing of them.

Thing is, there usually are more good candidates than offices to fill.

I can tell you that from personal experience. I've acted as a member of our Editorial Board for 30 years and participated in more candidate interviews than I could guess.

I get heavily involved in the interviews and enjoy them immensely for a variety of reasons.

Mainly, I enjoy them because every local election season rekindles my faith,

Every so often, you bump into a candidate who makes you scratch your head and wonder what business they've got running for office. But that's rare.

Mostly, you find candidates who genuinely care about the community, who get deeply involved, who obviously put in the time to study the issues they would confront them in office.

This election season is no different.

I've ended so many interviews marveling at how blessed the electorate is with good choices.

And thinking how difficult the choice between the candidates is going to be - for the voters casting their ballots and for us Editorial Board members deciding on endorsements.

What an inspiring thing that is.

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