Election season and letters’ policy
As the local political season gets started, we’ve seen an increase in letters to the editor from announced candidates. To maintain a level playing field, here are the ground rules for local political letters through December.
From this point on until qualifying day, no candidates for any local office will be given free print space to publicize their campaigns (with one exception, described below). Things like websites and campaign email addresses will be deleted from letters.
If the candidate already holds elective office, the name of the office will be allowed as an honorific title (“Cal Beverly, city dogcatcher”), but not something like, “Cal Beverly, candidate for city dogcatcher, www.crackdownonmutts.com.”
The exception is the FIRST official announcement this calendar year by any candidate that the candidate is running for a particular post. If the person has previously had a letter published that indicated such candidacy, no further candidacy announcements will be printed free.
If Joe Blow suddenly shows up and announces a run for dog catcher up until the last day of qualifying, that first announcement will be printed, subject to space limitations and standard editing practices.
After qualifying closes for municipal elections by the end of August, no more free space will be given to either candidates or supporters’ letters until the elections are decided.
So what can candidates and supporters write about for free in letters to the editor until the end of August? Issues and their positions on the issues. Want to attack another candidate by name? Buy an ad.
Letters that don’t follow these guidelines will be either edited for content or omitted from publication.
Since this newspaper is in the business of selling advertising space, all requests for paid advertising space will be welcomed from now until the elections. Any candidate is welcome to buy as much paid space as the candidate desires.
For TheCitizen.com, we generally tolerate benign live links to off-site web addresses — subject to site rules — until end of qualifying. At that point, new live links to off-site addresses will be policed and deleted.
On the site, the Coke-vs.-Pepsi rule governs — TheCitizen.com is a commercial enterprise that exists first to make money and second to provide a public service. Thus we won’t allow users to link to or promote a competitor’s site, just as Coca-Cola does not allow Pepsi to be sold in the Coca-Cola building or in its advertising.
May the best candidate win.