Our Opinion: Weigh in on local elections with your endorsement letters

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The Wilson Times does not endorse candidates for public office — but we won’t deny you the option of doing so.

Candidate endorsement letters are an integral part of the debate and discussion that precedes any election. We welcome letters to the editor from candidates, supporters and members of the public explaining why a particular candidate deserves support at the polls.

To ensure all readers have the same opportunity to weigh in, we set a deadline for endorsement letters — this year’s is Friday, Nov. 2. Endorsements received after that date will not appear in The Wilson Times. No endorsement letters will be published on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Let us know who you’ve chosen to represent District 7 on the Wilson County school board and what you expect him or her to accomplish. Likewise, who’s your pick for state House District 24 and Senate District 4? Who should fill the 1st and 2nd Congressional District seats in the people’s House? What’s your take on the six state constitutional amendments on North Carolinians’ ballot?

Letters should be 350 words or fewer and must include the writer’s name, hometown and a daytime phone number for verification purposes. (Phone numbers are for internal use only and are not printed.) In the interest of fairness, candidate endorsements will not be considered for guest columns — longer opinion pieces that appear with the writer’s portrait. All political opinion submissions will be held to the letter length limit.

Many newspaper editorial writers and editorial boards still publish candidate endorsements, though journalism trade publications say the practice is in decline. The Times chooses not to endorse candidates. Our position is that of an umpire calling balls and strikes — a neutral arbiter — rather than that of a partisan who’s “in the tank” for specific candidates.

The Wall Street Journal’s editors said it best in this 1972 note to readers: “Indeed, the short reason is simplicity itself. We don’t think our business is telling people how to vote. We do not see any meaningful way in which that would either add to the reader’s understanding of his times or raise the level of the public debate.”

In this space, we often weigh in on matters of public interest and critique our elected officials and public figures. We don’t, however, believe it proper for the newspaper to tell readers whom they ought to support. Instead, our job is to provide thorough, accurate reporting on local elections so voters have the facts they need to make informed decisions according to their own values, beliefs and preferences.

As the E.W. Scripps Co. motto reads, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

Letters to the editor and guest columns only reflect the views of their writers. The Wilson Times does not sponsor or endorse the contents of any signed opinion piece. We publish all original submissions we receive so long as they are not vulgar or defamatory and do not contain unverifiable first-person factual claims, such as consumer complaints.

The Times does not solicit letters or guest columns from individual writers. We publish the content our readers choose to share with us. If there is an imbalance, you have the opportunity to help correct it by writing a letter of your own and contributing to the conversation.

The Wilson Times believes strongly in the values of free speech, open discourse and civil debate. The remedy for speech you find disagreeable is more speech, not suppression or disengagement. While we don’t endorse any individual letter or column, we proudly stand behind everyone’s right to speak out — and that includes yours.

Want to weigh in? Share your letters of 350 words or fewer by emailing them to letters@wilsontimes.com, mailing them to PO Box 2447, Wilson, NC 27894 or dropping them off at our front desk during regular business hours.

Editor’s Note: Portions of this editorial have previously been published in explanations of the Times’ endorsement and letter policies.