John Costa column: Making endorsement decisions

John Costa /

Published Aug 31, 2014 at 12:16AM

The question comes up every election season.

How does The Bulletin editorial board decide who or what to endorse?

It’s actually pretty easy to understand.

The board has well-known views on issues, which are there for all to read daily in the newspaper.

All candidates in contested races, as well as supporters and opponents of ballot measures, are invited to come to the editorial board to be interviewed.

Candidates in uncontested races are not, but we’re happy to listen to them if they want to come in.

What the board learns in those interviews and what reporters discover during the course of campaign coverage form the factual basis for our choices.

Those individuals with views that most closely align with the expressed views of The Bulletin’s editorial board are likely to get its support.

Equally important is character, background and experience.

That shouldn’t shock anyone. It’s the way it’s done all over the country.

It’s noteworthy that it is the rare candidate we endorse who is in perfect agreement with us.

The board has to choose from the names on the ballot, not from a hypothetical list of perfect individuals.

We have disagreements with those we endorse, and agreements with those we don’t, but the board focuses on the most important issues for a particular race and then makes a call.

For those not endorsed, space is provided on the editorial page — where the endorsements appear — to tell readers why The Bulletin is wrong.

All that said, there are a few big issues that we’ll be asking about in this upcoming election.

Many of these focus on a single race or two, while some transcend all the contests.

We are sure to ask candidates about their support for Oregon State University-Cascades Campus in Bend.

For Bend City Council candidates, we’re interested in views of the campus location. Do candidates believe in the west-side campus, and what’s their thinking about dealing with the obvious challenges of traffic and parking?

For candidates for state office, I’m sure we’ll wonder how they will support further investment in OSU-Cascades.

But the subject of OSU-Cascades also affects the county commission. What do the candidates want to do with the public land adjacent to OSU-Cascades?

We are interested in candidate views on the future of Mirror Pond.

What about the UGB expansion of Bend and, for that matter, the appropriateness of the land laws and their application by the state?

Do legislative candidates believe another judge is necessary for courts in Deschutes and, if so, how would they go about securing the funds?

Which candidate has the best ideas to straighten out the utter mess that is Cover Oregon, and are the coordinated care organizations the right approach to medical reform?

Are we on the right track in public education, whether lower or higher?

What about further reforms to PERS, the public employee state retirement system?

How do we get the local, regional and state economy back on a long-term, sustainable growth trajectory?

And, of course, who will best represent Oregon’s interests in Congress, or lead the state well from the governor’s office?

Politically, it’s a complicated time.

But it’s also interesting and exciting.

It’s not easy to sort out answers from the spin and campaign rhetoric that some candidates and their backers, at one point or another, turn to.

But it’s critical that you try to sift your way through.

You have a chance to help determine the future of your communities.

Don’t pass it by.

John Costa is editor-in-chief of The Bulletin. Contact: 541-383-0337, jcosta@bendbulletin.com.