Let’s start the en­dorse­ments

The Compass - - OPINION -

It al­ways makes news in the United States when a ma­jor news­pa­per en­dorses a can­di­date for pres­i­dent. Re­mem­ber all the chat­ter in 2012 when many of the news­pa­pers that sup­ported Pres­i­dent Bar­rack Obama in 2008 turned their backs on him? Pun­dits of ev­ery stripe were talk­ing about it, and how it didn't bode well for the pres­i­dent.

In the end, it didn't mat­ter. Obama is still pres­i­dent, and Mitt Rom­ney now only seems to sur­face when he's pho­tographed fill­ing his ve­hi­cle with gaso­line, look­ing all di­sheveled and un­ex­cep­tional.

On the other hand, there was the 2011 fed­eral elec­tion in this coun­try. The list of news­pa­pers en­dors­ing Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper and the Con­ser­va­tives was as long as your arm, and look what hap­pened. The Con­ser­va­tives won a ma­jor­ity with 166 seats in the House of Com­mons, com­fort­ably more than the 155 needed for a ma­jor­ity.

Ob­vi­ously it was the en­dorse­ment of all th­ese news­pa­pers that helped push the Tories over the top. Right?

Well, does it make a dif­fer­ence? Can the opin­ion of a news­pa­per edi­to­rial board sway vot­ers in one di­rec­tion or an­other? Not likely, es­pe­cially in this day and age when news­pa­per cir­cu­la­tion is de­clin­ing, and reader skep­ti­cism is greater than ever.

But here at The Com­pass, we like to be ad­ven­tur­ous once and a while, so hold on to your … bal­lot.

We are mere weeks away from Sept. 24, when vot­ers through­out the prov­ince will go to the polls to elect their mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil for the next four-year term. It may not be on the scale of a U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, or com­pare to the fight for power in Ot­tawa or St. John's, but com­mu­nity news­pa­pers are grass­roots, and mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are as grass­roots as you're go­ing to get.

So what's stop­ping us from en­dors­ing a can­di­date for mayor in Bay Roberts or Car­bon­ear or Up­per Is­land Cove? Wouldn't you like to know our views? Would it even mat­ter to you?

As com­mu­nity jour­nal­ists, we spend a fair share of time at­tend­ing mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil meet­ings, and in­ter­act­ing face-to-face with may­ors, deputy may­ors and coun­cil­lors. We get to see how they act un­der pres­sure, get a sense of whether they bring vi­sion and bal­ance to a de­bate, and as­sess whether their in­ten­tions are all-em­brac­ing or self­serv­ing.

So we should have some su­pe­rior in­sight, right? Our opin­ions should count. Shouldn't they?

Should we take the risk of ir­ri­tat­ing some por­tions of our read­er­ship, po­ten­tially drive off ad­ver­tis­ers, and per­haps give the per­cep­tion that there's bias in our news cov­er­age? It's oh, so tempt­ing, since we have so much we could say.

But alas, our read­ers will have to go to the bal­lot box with­out the wid­som of our in­sights, with this one ex­cep­tion. If there are fe­males on your bal­lot, give this can­di­date some se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. All too of­ten, the coun­cil ta­ble is male dom­i­nated, and this has to change.

— By Terry Roberts

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