Editor's Notebook: Post-Election Debriefing

My thoughts (spoiler alert: personal opinions included) on this election season.

I'd like to start by saying, whether you now have election fatigue or not, what an exciting and, at times intense, election season it's been for our community. You may have heard the old journalism adage that if every side hates you at the end of election season, you've done your job. I prefer to aim for each side respecting me when it's said and done as a reflection of having done my job as both a journalist and member of the community.

Terry LaBrue, a communications consultant who has worked on the Toft, Magendanz, and Rodne campaigns this season as well as many more in past year, summed it up well, saying that elections are always hard because half the people in every political contest have to lose.

As the final vote tallies trickle in, I really want to take a moment to thank you all for your participation. Participation by the candidates, by their supporters and detractors, by you all, through your comments, letters, and Local Voices posts, has been really amazing. We've broken ground with live online conversation with candidates, offered all candidates the opportunity to speak directly to voters via the Patch platform, and done our best to report accurately while acknowledging that Patch editors have opinions too.

By way of example, I would like to point to several things that I think have contributed a great deal to the conversation during the campaigns this year:

Local Voices posts: sharing information, such as by 5th District Senate candidate Brad Toft; and asking pertinent questions to the community and sharing opinions, such as by Christie Malchow on Sammamish Proposition 1.

Letters to the Editor: We've had a number of these, both in response to articles and sharing opinions on local issues, even from the wives of 5th District candidates, Sabath Mullet and Jill Toft.

Comments: Everyone's got an opinion, and sharing it on a public forum such as Patch always takes a certain amount of bravery. I reserve special respect for those who have commented under their own names, and recognize that for some, commenting with a first name only or under a pseudonym is the only thing they are comfortable with. The comments are a bit of new ground for me, as I believe they are for some of my Patch colleagues. We're still trying to improve how we moderate comments without squelching conversation. It's hard to check yourself on political issues you are highly passionate about--which is probably why it's a taboo subject at the dinner table, and also why it's so important to have a place to talk about it. In the few cases I've suspended user accounts (two, to be exact) because of repeated violations of Patch's terms of use, it has been with great gravity and consideration on my part.

Are all of these things perfectly executed here by yours truly? Certainly not, and as an editor, I know that I'm certainly fallible, imperfect, and well, human. Hopefully knowing that, and knowing that the buck stops with me, makes me do the job carefully and well.

I also certainly have opinions, which sometimes I express in comments. Other times, I take the opposing viewpoint in the comment stream for the purpose of either adding information, giving people something more to think about, or anticipating the questions I think are begged from what was said.

Sometimes people take exception, and sometimes maybe I go too far (I can feel some of you nodding in agreement right now), and just today someone asked me if I was speaking about sodomy from personal experience. Sometimes as soon as I hit submit on my comment, I know something like that is going to happen, so I understand how difficult it must be for some of our community members who have something important they want to say but worry about the comment storm it may create.

What I can say is that, like my comments or hate them, every person I've been following or talking to during this election has been respectful, passionate about their views, and working hard to make those views known throughout this election. This leaves me in awe, just to think that there are people willing to put everything on the line, knowing their money is at stake, their lives are going to be on display under a microscope, and their motives questioned while they seek to serve the public good as they see it through their actions. No matter what you think about any individual candidate or issue or those who have campaigned hard for them or against them, I hope you'll ask yourself if you could or would invest that amount of time and subject your family to an arduous year of trying to get elected or taking a stand for what you believe is right. I'm not sure I could handle it, and I have nothing but respect for those who take on the challenge of vigorous participation.

I hope that I've at least mostly accomplished my main goal of making people feel welcome to express their opinions and questions no matter what their political persuasion or position on an issue or candidate, and I leave you with a sincere desire to know what you thought was done well here and what you'd like to see done differently in future election seasons.








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