It can be amazing to journalists that although we repeat things, and remind folks, misconceptions about our news coverage — what we cover, how we cover it, who decides what gets covered, who’s in charge of headlines — still gets misconstrued.
Take the recent Chaffee Primary election for Chaffee Board of County Commissioner (BoCC) for District 3.
Four candidates (three who qualified and one who just recently pulled a petition to run as an unaffiliated candidate) announced:
- P.T. Wood- Democrat
- Dr. Alison Brown – Republican
- Brandon Becker – Republican
- Adrianne Kuhn – Unaffiliated candidate who has pulled a petition, but not yet qualified for the ballot.
Three were official candidates by the ballot deadline, and one, Alison Brown, answered our questions prior to the primary. We received reader comments that we shouldn’t have run the answers to our questions to BoCC candidates from just one candidate and it was unfair to give Brown that media coverage.
For the record — when each candidate announced they were running for the BoCC, Ark Valley Voice ran a news story:
This is a local primary, not a national election — so nearly four weeks before the primary, and before the mail ballots went out, we asked the following questions of all three BoCC candidates who were on that ballot and set a response deadline:
- Why are you running for Chaffee County Commissioner?
- What is your strongest qualification as a candidate; what makes you the best candidate at this time for this role?
- What do you want to accomplish should you be selected as a county commissioner?
- What is the greatest challenge facing Chaffee County and what solutions are you proposing to address it?
- Chaffee County Housing Authority (including the county, the towns of Buena Vista, and Salida) is in need of workforce housing, and the county’s Multi-jurisdictional Housing Authority is considering many options to address the housing crisis. One option might be to put a ballot question before the people asking if they would agree with raising county property taxes to fund workforce housing. What is your position regarding the possibility that the Chaffee County Housing Authority may put a ballot question on raising county property taxes to fund workforce housing? Do you support it, or do you support another alternative, and if so, what is it?
Only Brown responded, within a few days and before the deadline. We gave it a few weeks, and we sent reminders to the other candidates who had qualified for the primary. We gave it another week and still got no response. So we ran Brown’s answers and included the invitation for the other candidates to respond, promising to run their answers when we got them.
This news story waited for weeks with a headline on it because we fully expected all the candidates to respond. We finally ran it without changing the headline precisely BECAUSE that was the point; candidates running for public office should respond. We got comments that it was misleading, asking why we didn’t follow up, why we didn’t just change that headline.
That, dear readers, is an editorial decision, and I take full responsibility for it. Editorial control of Ark Valley Voice rests with me. Given that the candidates announced they were running for office — this normally means you want some attention to your candidacy and welcome media coverage. These should be questions they are prepared to answer when the media asks them.
Ignoring the media — says something else.
Democratic candidate Wood did answer the questions this past weekend, and AVV has run those answers. As this 2022 campaign season proceeds, AVV will have more questions. If there are questions our readers have of the candidates, you can send them to ArkValleyVoice@gmail.com and it is reasonable that we expect candidates to answer.