I knew election season was upon us when U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder County Democrat, walked into my office late last week.
Of course, Udall won't even appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. But in his bid to be a U.S. senator in 2008, it's never too early to shake hands and make nice with the media. Like the changing of aspen leaves signaling autumn, journalists can track the coming of election season by the sudden enthusiasm of politicians to make themselves available to us.
Udall, his communications director, several newspaper reporters and myself had a nice hour-long visit during which we discussed a variety of regional and national issues. Udall was candid in his responses and seemed to genuinely enjoy his time with us.
Udall was the first politician to visit me this year, but he certainly won't be the last. During the next two months, I'll get to visit with many - if not all - of our School Board and City Council candidates, and I suspect it won't be long before Bob Schaffer, Udall's likely Republican foe in the 2008 race to replace Sen. Wayne Allard, makes his way to our neck of the woods.
I'd be lying if I said the journalist in me didn't thoroughly enjoy election season (and I think we've got a good one on our hands this year).
For starters, it's an opportunity for a paper such as the Pilot & Today to serve one of its greatest purposes - providing unbiased, balanced coverage that encourages readers to take part in our democratic process of representation. Our coverage should strive to educate voters and help them make the choice that best fits their beliefs come Nov. 6. It should be the newspaper that makes sense of confusing ballot language and forces candidates to clearly express their views on one issue or the other.
To that end, we have several exciting plans for this election year. As we have for many years, the Pilot & Today will publish a special Election Guide that will include reports on every contested race in Routt County as well as reports detailing local ballot questions and other ballot-related issues. Also expect to find precinct maps to help voters find their way to the right polling locations.
Steamboatpilot.com will feature an interactive candidate selector that matches how voters think about specific issues with the candidate whose stances most reflect their own. Our Election 2007 Web page will archive every election-related story we publish.
We also plan to host a candidates forum in October that will give members of the community an opportunity to hear candidates speak about pressing issues facing the city, school district, etc. The forum will be videotaped for broadcast on our Web site, Steamboat TV18 or both.
Ultimately, I hope our election coverage helps readers make informed choices when they step into polling booths Nov. 6. If you have any ideas for how we can bolster our election 2007 reporting, please call or e-mail me.
From the Editor appears Thursdays in the Steamboat Today. To reach Brent Boyer, call 871-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.