It’s long been the policy of the Spirit of Jefferson not to endorse political candidates and it’ll remain that way through this election cycle as well.
To be sure, there’s much good in directing readers attention to one political hopeful over another. Endorsements help make newspapers a viable member in a community’s conversation and help to inform their readers about what candidate is the better or more serious one, and let’s be honest, when we are dealing with local races, there are plenty of opportunities whereby a less-than-serious candidate can find himself elected by an equally less-than-fully-informed electorate. Such was the case less than 10 years ago in Martinsburg when voters there chose a relative unknown for a seat on the City Council over a longtime member who many constituents in his ward felt had grown less than responsive to their issues. The result: the upstart went on a monomaniacal tear, wielding a baseball bat at traffic intersections, picking fights with motorists and the city police, packing heat at council meetings and ultimately resigning in disgrace after being arrested on drug charges.
But there are also plenty of reasons not to offer endorsements in local elections, one of them being a determination to stay above the partisan fray, to side less with a party and lean instead toward or away from an idea. Such a stance is particularly advisable in these highly politically demarcated times where even a hint of fraternization with this side or that can lead to accusations of favoritism, and we’re too small a community for that.
But most important of all, the Spirit strives always to be your newspaper, and appearing either too much this or that is the first, best way to alienate members of the community whose voices deserve to be heard. For our part, it’s better to bring all parties to the party than it is to decide from the get-go that one position or the other is unwelcome. We genuinely want all viable viewpoints to be fairly and accurately represented in our community and in these pages.
That said, early voting begins this week in West Virginia and casting that one vote you have is your one best way of making your own voice heard.