Tag Archives: elections

Election season surfaces again

My father was in town last weekend helping his mother clean out years of stockpiled archives, paperwork, mail and other detritus. My grandmother has some pack-rat tendencies that I’d like to think are not genetic, though looking across my desk this evening makes me wonder.

One “find” was a souvenir bookmark which, before sending it to the shredder, my dad wanted to milk a laugh out of. It’s a beige piece of stock paper with clip art with a Gore Vidal quote below: “Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it’s the same half.”

This particular bookmark was printed in 1998 for an 80th birthday and the writer Vidal made the statement, or at least a version of it, in a 1992 book. Neither, it can safely be assumed, had any idea of the online world that would arrive to make the quote even more biting. The number of Americans who read a newspaper has declined considerably since, the amount of political gossip passed on as news has increased, and mudslinging advertising and sound-bite tit-for-tat in the media seem to elbow out the info that actually helps you make an informed choice.

Vidal, who can fairly be called pessimist where modern politics are concerned, would ratchet down his percentages if he made the same quote today.

But I’m not writing to wring my hands over politics or the media. Our newspaper is still in the business of helping you learn more about local elections, and that’s what we’re going to set a table full of over the coming weeks. We’ve got a primary a month away, after all.

The idea is to give you information about local candidates and races as close as possible to the time when ballots are mailed out. So beginning Wednesday we’ll be running profiles of candidates in all local races that will be contested Aug. 7, including legislative races, judicial races, Congressional races, the county commissioner seat up for grabs and the Bremerton levy measure on the ballot. We’ll also publish the candidates in their own words — or at least as many words that fit — drawing from our Ask the Candidates election guide, which you can find at elections.kitsapsun.com.

Speaking of the online election guide, I’d invite you to visit the site. We’ve redesigned the look for better navigation, asked all candidates to fill out biographical information and answer questions specific to their races, and we’re posting video interviews our editorial board has done. We’ll keep those going through the fall, so stay tuned for more. I introduce each editorial meeting by telling the candidates that our videos are intended as a further resources for voters to watch, so don’t let me be a liar.

Those video interviews are essentially an inside look at our editorial board’s endorsement process, though we do any deliberations off camera. The other point I make before each interview is my hope that by offering you a look at our conversation with candidates, our board of four Sun staff members and five community members is more transparent than editorial boards have historically been. You may disagree with our endorsements — which will begin publishing on Sunday, July 22 — but now you can see the same conversation our board in part based the decision upon.

The quote I began with is about the presidential election, but I’ve always thought that the municipal court judge or city councilman can influence your life just as much as the White House. So even those who hold your nose when politics comes up should get engaged on that level. And with apologies to Mr. Vidal, I’ll conclude with a quote of his that wasn’t related necessarily to elections, but in this context should be: “You hear all this whining going on, ‘Where are our great writers?’ The thing I might feel doleful about is: Where are the readers?”

Hopefully, these days they’re holding a Kitsap Sun, and a ballot.

Election season begins, with some notes from Port Orchard

I know, I know, in America these days it’s always campaign time. But we like to draw a line when a voter can realistically start following local elections.

From my perspective, that starts when our editorial board starts meeting with candidates for the primary and general elections. With few primary races this summer we met only four times with candidates (two Bainbridge council races, one Bremerton council, one North Kitsap school board).  But the editorial board will have its work cut out over the next two months as we prepare for the general election in November.

Once again we’ll endorse the candidates that earn a consensus approval from the editorial board, though those opinions will not be published until later in October. We’ll also once again be uploading video of our interviews to kitsapsun.com, to give voters an additional resource to access candidates and lend more transparency to our board’s decisions. You may have notice the first few video interviews are now live on the site. Keep watching each week for more, they’ll usually post on Thursday or Friday.

The discussion with Port Orchard City Council candidates Jerry Childs and Ben Pinneo was abbreviated because our tape ran out before closing comments were made. If you’ve watched that video through to the end you’ll see a note there referring to this blog.

I wanted to give a shorthand version of the remainder of that meeting so it’s on the record, and because each candidate had a few points worth sharing.

Pinneo continued after the tape’s conclusion, stating his opinion that city communications could improve, and his vision to do so more proactively through social networking. That was a transition into the recent code city issue, which Pinneo, who was local at the most recent council meeting on the topic, said could have been better explained to residents. He told us he had no negative suspicions about the plan, but he signed the Michaels’ petition because he had heard no “specific examples” of how a code city designation will benefit Port Orchard. Pinneo concluded by stating that he’s a man of “moderate views,” and simiply interested in being a public servant through a council role.

Jerry Childs used his response to talk about the leadership role he and his wife, Shannon Childs, played in founding the Cedar Cove Days festival from 2009, which emphasizes his philosophy that such events help a community “reinvent itself,” a benefit in both tourism dollars and local pride. He mentioned some additions to this winter’s Lights and Chimes that he’s helped with, for instance. “Things that people have fun doing, that helps improve the image of their town.”

Childs also responded to Pinneo’s statement about the code city debate. He said the issue was vetted properly and publicly last spring, contends there was no reason to revisit the vote in August following talk of the petition, and that spending $5,000 next fall for a general election item is a “lousy way” to spend that money. A member of the city’s finance committee, Childs also pointed out his “nay” vote on the waterfront trail project because he felt that safety concerns in initial plan had not be vetted adequately for a $250,000 project, and in doing so demonstrated that he’ll butt heads with other council members over spending.

In closing, each candidate was asked to differentiate himself from the other, since the two clearly respect one another and agree on many broad topics. Childs pointed to his life experience as something that separates him from the younger Pinneo, as well as knowledge working with nonprofit organizations. Pinneo criticized two specific votes cast by Childs while on the council — one to give the city’s legal advertising to the Port Orchard Independent rather than the Sun, and another about how Lodging Tax money is spent. Childs said he’d welcome a debate on those twoitems, and the men agreed to do so at an upcoming public event.

They’ll debate at a League of Women Voters forum at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, at city hall, and at a Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce forum on Oct. 13 at McCormick Woods.

Live Editorial Board with District 26 Senate Candidates

This afternoon (Wednesday) we’ll have Sen. Derek Kilmer, defending his Dist. 26 seat in the primary this August, in front of the editorial board with challengers Kristine Danielson and Marty McClendon.

We’re scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. The live feed will be at www.kitsapsun.com/live-video. We’ll archive it at www.kitsapsun.com/videos.

Kilmer‘s the Democratic incumbent from Gig Harbor, Danielson is a Port Orchard resident who filed a “no party” preference, and McClendon is also a Gig Harbor resident, running as a Republican.

Like I mentioned last week, we have some priority questions for the candidates and our community board members also are invited to ask what they’d like to know. But if you have any suggestions, post below and I’ll try to fit them in.


Politicos, It’s That Time Again…

We’ll have an item on tomorrow’s Opinion page introducing this season’s plan for editorial board interviews, but here’s your sneak preview.

Just like the 2009 campaign, our editorial board meetings with candidates will be shown live on our website, and archived for your review. The first is tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., with the three candidates for the 23rd District House seat.

That interview, and all others during the summer and fall, may be seen at www.kitsapsun.com/live-video. In the next few weeks we’ll also get our online elections database together, which we’ve used in the past to allow each candidate to express their views on the issues. Those questions are being prepared for circulation now, and I’ll let you know when the site lives again.

Here’s the piece going in tomorrow’s paper:

OUR VIEW | Political Season Begins on Kitsapsun.com

Well, the season has returned — not summer, despite the solstice passing on the calendar and a bit of warmth on Tuesday, but the start of political campaigning.
On Wednesday we’ll begin showing editorial board interviews live on kitsapsun.com, the second year we’ve added that to the Sun’s annual election coverage that we start planning after filing week is finished. We’re aiming to have all 2010 candidates in contested local races into our office at least once, and in some cases we’ll bring back those before the general election.
We began showing you our election interviews during the 2009 campaign for a few reasons: First, to uphold our mission of transparency by giving our readers a window into what our editorial board’s political endorsements are based upon; and also to offer voters another forum to hear from the candidates and help make an informed choice.
You’ll be able to watch each interview at www.kitsapsun.com/live-video, so bookmark that site and watch this page for announcements as we schedule more candidates. All video interviews will be archived on kitsapsun.com as well as we update our elections information, so if you miss a live discussion you’ll be able to review each candidate’s answers when you receive your ballot.
Our first meeting will be with the three residents aiming for the 23rd District House seat, currently held by Christine Rolfes. That race is between Rolfes, a Democrat from Bainbridge Island; James Olsen, a Republican from Bainbridge; and Aaron Winters, a Republican from Poulsbo.
We’ll begin the interview at 1:30 p.m., and our meetings usually last an hour. Our editorial page endorsements will not be published immediately, rather we’ll wait until closer to the time when voters have ballots in hand for the August 17 primary.
We hope you’ll join us online this week, and stay tuned for more as election season gets going.