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On endorsements

by Brian Clarey

Endorsements are a tricky business. It’s not the same thing as picking winners in the election —also a tricky business, particularly in this year’s Greensboro City Council election — which means that there’s a good chance you’ll eventually have to interview a council member who made it through without the benefit of your endorsement. And it’s different than being flat-out in the tank for a candidate, because often endorsements come down to a lesser-of-two-evils kind of thing; they often come with warnings or admonishments.

Still, when you endorse a candidate, you are putting your own reputation and integrity on the line. And you’re fulfilling a journalistic mandate: We research the candidates so our readers don’t have to. It works… as long as they trust us.

And there’s even the question of whether to endorse at all. Many papers like ours have abdicated that responsibility.

We endorse in local elections, and because the Greensboro municipal election is the only game in town right now, we have been all over it.

Our series of one-on-one interviews with both sitting and aspiring council members began on Sept. 7. Each got an hour in our office with Brian Clarey and Jordan Green and a chance to make her pitch. Of course, we had questions of our own. And of the 28 candidates facing the primary on Oct. 11, as of press time we have spoken with 23.

We are grateful and humbled by the response. We took them one by one, sometimes as many as five in a day; each left us with something to ponder: a unique perspective, a strong stand, glimpses of the future and ghosts of the past. And the enterprise was perhaps the single most important piece of work we’ve done all year.

The process is far from over — the heavy lifting is in the vetting, debating and horse-trading that happens in every endorsement process. We’ll have a slate of candidates ready for the Oct. 11 primary, as well as information about every single candidate — even the ones who have yet to respond to our invitation.

Part of the deal with endorsements — at least for us — is that they have to want it. If a candidate isn’t interested in a stamp of approval from us, and by proxy our thousands of regular readers, then that candidate is unlikely to pass muster with our endorsement board. And we must ask ourselves: If they won’t talk to us now, when they’re trying to get elected, why would they talk to us after winning a seat?

We offer a sincere thanks to those candidates who have already participated, and an open invitation to those who have yet to schedule their appointments, along with a word to the wise: Transparency is a condition of the job.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration

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