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We 'like' all political candidates equally

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

 

With the holidays fading into memory, it’s almost time for those grinning politicians to peek around poles and pop up on grassy, although somewhat brown, patches of yards.

That means the election is just a couple of months away and there is certainly quite a bit of interest in several races as some have 10 candidates seeking election.

Go ahead and call me a geek but I’m one of those people who believe it’s my privilege, honor and even duty to go to the polls on Election Day.

While the Grant County News does not endorse candidates, we will be bringing you an election section at the end of April. 

This will feature all the candidates who have opposition for the May 20 primary election.

All candidates will be mailed a questionnaire next week and will be given until Feb. 21 to return it. If the candidates chose not to return the questionnaire by the deadline, they will not be included in the special section on the election.

The questionnaires are due back to the News office by 5 p.m. Feb. 21. If a candidate does not receive a questionnaire by the end of next week, they should contact me immediately.

The Grant County News, as the community’s news and information leader, will strive to provide detailed coverage during election season.

For candidates, that does not mean that you can expect to get your photo in the paper every time you give a speech, kiss a baby or help an elderly neighbor.

Any news coverage is designed to be fair, balanced and objective. I’m sure that most candidates are looking for coverage to be fun, encouraging and supportive.

Along the political way, candidates may be upset at times with the coverage and try to vilify the newspaper and its staff members.

We’ll try not to take is personally and hope that the candidates can also do the same.

The news staff is people doing a job the best we can. In collecting information and presenting stories, the first objective is accuracy.

Some candidates see the facts differently, but pleasing the candidates is not our aim. Pleasing readers is.

The News staff plans to review candidates’ press releases, keep track of promotional messages, sponsor forums and interview candidates. We will also be monitoring social media to keep track of candidates and their stand on issues important to Grant County.

I want the public to understand that in this modern era, reporters must utilize all tools available to them to accomplish keeping up with candidates. Don’t be surprised or alarmed if you notice a newspaper reporter is following a candidates or campaign on social media.

In the case of Facebook, “like” may not mean like. In Twitter, a follower could be acting simply as a monitor to watch for matters of public interest and concern that become postings.

A new “like” from me or one of our reporters on some candidates’ Facebook site is the same as spotting their brochure or handout on my desk. It is research necessary to stay on top of developments and by no means should be considered an endorsement.

In an effort to make everyone, candidates and their supporters, as well as the general public aware of how we handle elections. Here are some rules that apply for the election.

Letters of endorsement

The Grant County News will publish letters of endorsement. Letters are limited to 200 words or less. The News will publish only one letter per candidate from one particular person. That means if John Q. Public sends in four letters to endorse a candidate for judge-executive, only one of those four letters will be published.

Endorsements will not be printed the week prior to the election. The deadline to submit a letter of endorsement is 5 p.m. on May 2. Letters received after that time will not be published, no exceptions.

Letters of endorsement must follow the same guidelines as other letters to the editor.

Here’s an important principle to remember: The Viewpoint page is a place for opinions. But it does not drive or influence news coverage. 

As involved voters, it’s important that you can digest the information appropriately and discern the difference between news, opinion and advertising. Each can have value but only if you can tell them apart.

Back to those grinning signs, Grant County does have rules about political signs.

According to the Grant County Zoning Regulations and the zoning regulations of each city, temporary political signs are permitted in all zones with the following conditions.

1.  Only one political sign per candidate for local, state, or national office or any local or state issue is allowed on each lot.

2.  Permission to place the sign must be obtained from the property owner or occupant.

3.  Political signs are allowed no more than 60 days prior to an election and not more than 10 days after the date of the election.

4. No political sign can be larger than 12 square feet.

Those zoning ordinances, however, don’t include penalties for candidates who violate them, but, under Kentucky law, candidates who break the ordinance could be fined $10 to $500 per day. 

(Jamie Baker-Nantz is editor of the Grant County News. She can be reached at jbakernantz@grantky.com  or by phone at 859-824-3343.)