This is an election year like no other. If you voted by mail for the first time, you understand. If you've stood in a long line to cast your ballot early, you know that's the case.
Our editorial board realized it last spring, when shelter-at-home orders transformed our usual primary candidate interview sessions into a series of conference calls. We endorsed candidates in the primary election, but we also determined the calls were not a good substitute for the face-to-face meetings with candidates we've held for many years. In addition, voters' eagerness to cast ballots made it necessary to interview candidates early in the election cycle – too early, in some cases, to determine the issues of most concern to our readers.
For those reasons and others, The Journal Gazette will not offer candidate endorsements for the general election. It's not a decision we arrived at easily. The newspaper has a long history of endorsing candidates, beginning with the founding of The Fort Wayne Daily Gazette as a vehicle to support the reelection of President Lincoln. While the Gazette was established as a Republican newspaper and later favored Democratic Party positions, we have been independent since 1973 and our endorsements in general election contests have always included candidates from both sides of the political aisle.
We also recognize the First Amendment rights we enjoy come with an obligation to inform readers and to encourage their civic participation. We've already heard from readers seeking our editorial board views on local contests.
But this extraordinary election year also differs from most others in the sense that its hyper-partisan tone has made it difficult to move past the noise to focus on issues, candidate qualifications and records, even for the down-ticket races.
That doesn't mean there is no information available to you. The Journal Gazette's election coverage once again includes previews of area races and candidate profiles. Our editorial board invited candidates for governor to make their case in columns published on this page. Op-eds by 3rd District Congressman Jim Banks and his Democratic challenger, Chip Coldiron, appeared Oct. 18, and we've published columns and letters by multiple local candidates. As always, we've devoted much opinion-page space to election-related letters to the editor, which we will continue to accept until noon on Oct. 26.
The League of Women Voters' website, vote411.org, is an excellent source of information. Enter your address to view the races on your ballot and find unedited responses entered directly by the candidates.
If you can't find information about a candidate, that's also worth considering. Candidates unwilling to respond to a nonpartisan organization's questionnaire or a reporter's request for information might be candidates unwilling to answer to constituents once they are elected. Elected officials are public servants; they should be accessible and responsive.
Our editorial board will continue to follow issues affecting the state, region and city long after Nov. 3. Our hope is that our daily reporting and commentary have made you aware of issues you should consider when you vote. And we expect to return to endorsing candidates in 2022, when we're hopeful the pandemic will be history and partisan passion has cooled.