Column: Newspapers and their role in elections

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on April 8, 2009

Well, another election is over.

Whew.

We had some interesting races, some conversation-starting referendums and hopefully better voter turnout than in past years. I’ve enjoyed taking part in candidate forums and reading my reporters’ stories on the various races and referendums. It feels good to take part in democracy.

And, I must say, I prefer the local elections to the national elections.

One of things I like best about local elections is the lack of party politics. For the most part, I have no idea whether candidates are Republicans or Democrats or neither. These elections are about the people, not the animal on their campaign buttons.

This is fantastic because party politics can make election season tough on papers as people begin to think you’re siding with one party or the other. You read one note saying your paper leans too Republican, and five minutes later, somebody hands you a note that complains about your paper leaning too Democratic. This honestly happens, and it befuddles me every time. You just can’t win.

Newspapers should not lean toward any political parties or candidates, and while I might be in the minority here, I’m not a big fan of endorsements. That doesn’t mean The Chronicle won’t endorse candidates in the future, because I’m just one cog in this newspaper and that decision doesn’t solely rest with me. But I’m certainly not a fan.

I’d rather inform than endorse any day. And while I think we did a good job of that this year, we can do an even better job in the future. As technology improves and we can connect with candidates better, we hope to be able to give you even more information on those running for office to help you with your decision.

We play the vital role of providing information in the democratic process, and here at The Chronicle we plan on getting better and better at that. If you have any suggestions or thoughts on our election coverage and how you think we can improve in the future, please call me or send me an e-mail. Together, we can make The Chronicle better at doing its part for democracy.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. You can write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

Editor’s note:

Why do we elect township assessors? Of all the races, the township assessor races have been among the most contested this year. At the time I’m writing this, I don’t know who has won, but I know there will be upset people after the election. But should we even be electing this position? Kane County’s supervisor of assessments is an appointed position. Why aren’t the township assessors also appointed? It seems like they should be appointed or hired positions. They have a specific task to do, according to Illinois state law. There are no decisions to be made like other elected positions. You can either assess property well, saving the county and property owners headaches, or you can’t. And if assessors were appointed or hired, the township trustees could release those who don’t cut it. I’m all for electing those who represent us, but I’m just not so sure about this specific office.

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