Editorial: Ground rules for political letters this election season

05/12/2019 5:58 AM |

Town nominating conventions were held in February this year and with that comes an early start to the election season.

We ask those who seek office to stick to the issues and abide by our general letters policy, which limits individuals to two letters per calendar month. That also means keep it to under 350 words and prepare to be edited as we deem fair and appropriate.

With that in mind, we’ve also dusted off our biennial editorial about rules for the local election season a little early.

Aside from a single introductory letter from each candidate, this isn’t the place for self-promotion and résumé dumping. We ask that any additional letters or op-ed submissions focus on a single topic or event and that you weigh in on any given topic only once. You should expect that we will allow your opponent to respond in a subsequent letter or Equal Time piece, with no additional back and forth beyond that. We also will not allow a single candidate to hijack our opinion pages with repeated editorials or letters, so choose your words wisely.

For letter writers who do stick to the issues and call out officials or others on their actions or positions, remember to keep it civil. We live in a small town and today’s adversaries can be tomorrow’s friends and neighbors. That’s not a prohibition against tough criticism, but it is a ban on nasty personal attacks.

Also, if you belong to a local political committee or work for someone already in office, we ask that you identify yourself as such. If not, we’ll do it for you.

We also ask that political advertisements from fringe committees be submitted with the name of an individual on them. Our readers deserve to know who is behind a certain campaign.

Lastly, we ask you to keep in mind that we will not publish political letters in print beyond the Oct. 24 edition — with the exception of allowing a nominated candidate to address a claim made against them in that week’s paper. We may allow online-only submissions beyond that date, but will limit it to newly raised issues.

We wish each of the candidates good luck as their campaigns get underway.

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