Monday, October 29, 2007

The Herald News Endorsement for Mayor...and why I think they're wrong

The Herald News endorsed Representative Robert Correia for Mayor of Fall River. The endorsement, which was in Sunday's edition credits Correia with being a tough but fair leader. They believe that his plans offer more specifics and are more "actionable".

I think the Herald News might be wrong, not in endorsing Bob Correia but in endorsing anyone at all.

This is an opinion that a few people have expressed to me, that perhaps that paper shouldn't make endorsements. My first thought was this was a silly opinion, newspapers have long endorsed political candidates. It is something that I think most of us have come to expect and use and even use as a guide to validate our own opinions.

However, I think over the course of this weekend my opinion on this has changed. The problem with these endorsements is that in telling you who they endorse they don't tell you why they don't endorse someone else.

Why didn't the Herald endorse 5 Council incumbents? Why was Shawn Cadime the only School Committee candidate running for reelection not to get the nod? Maybe you don't care, but you should!

These endorsements do exactly what they are meant to. They highlight the endorsed candidate and that candidates views, goals, and accomplishments. It's an unfair advantage at a critical time. At a point where you should be looking to educate yourself as much as possible you're being spoon fed information on specific candidates by an entity that many believe to be more knowledgeable than they are.

No where is this more of a concern than in the race for Mayor. By endorsing one candidate you are not endorsing the ONLY other choice.

Reading the Herald's endorsement I am made to believe that Bob Correia is the choice for strong leadership and bold ideas, and I won't disagree with that. Bob's ideas for redeveloping downtown, and creating community learning centers are good ones that I believe any Mayor should consider.

However, looking at Dave Sullivan's platform, I see plans that I think are specific and "actionable". Sullivan has proposed expanding Diman, which would open up more oppurtunities for vocational learning and help lower the classroom size at Durfee High. Sullivan also proposes expanding the Alternative High School, which can only help lower our drop out rates and increase educational attainment levels. Dave also proposes implementing a 311 call system to route city concerns and complaints to get them more efficiently addressed. As Mayor, Sullivan promises to have 'meet the Mayor nights' at every school in the city. He proposes making board positions open to every citizen in the city, as well as making the city budget a more easy to understand document. Sullivan advocates quarterly reporting, and he advocates a regional approach to solving our solid waste issues. This is just some of the content I've gotten from his website.

Does this mean that he's a better candidate than Bob Correia? I'm not going to decide that for you. What it says to me is that Dave Sullivan is a credible candidate worthy of consideration but too many people will read what is spoon fed to them and won't get all the information they should have.

Congratulations to Bob Correia for getting the Herald's endorsement. As for me, I'm not going to endorse either candidate. Instead I'm endorsing an informed vote and urge you to go out there and find as much as you can about all your choices and then vote for the candidates who you feel will best serve the city.

Dave Sullivan's website
Bob Correia's website

4 comments:

Vicki said...

I'm voting for Sullivan because I like him and his ideas. I do have a question though--why was Shawn Cadime the only school committee candidate running for re-election not endorsed by the Herald News? My interest in city politics is recent and I really would like to know. I've heard Shawn speak and I liked what he said and how he comes across--meaning as a sincere person who really wants to help the kids get a better education. So if anyone knows why the Herald News isn't endorsing him can you clue me in? Thanks. :-)

Left but lurking said...

Unfortunately, Sullivan is not very articulate and presents himself poorly.

Not that Comb-over Correia would win any prize for polish, but he sounds a little better even though he doesn't say anything worth listening to.

Sullivan fought for the residents of Watuppa Heights and doesn't stick his head in the sand when it comes to Fall River's extremely big heroin problem by supporting a needle exchange program (I agree with Sullivan's positions). Unfortunately, these positions seem to really freak uninformed people out, which seem to be in a majority in Fall River based on September's results.

Anonymous said...

Do think newspapers shouldn't endorse candidates, or is how the Herald News did this?

From everything I hear on the radio, and your comments here, it is not so much that newspapers should or shouldn't do it, but that the Herald News Editorial Board (whoever that may be), did an awful job of developing a critique of each candidate, before offering a final endorsement.

Editorial boards are meant to offer an informed, educated opinion. That is why editorial boards around the country have commentary on issues like the War, SCHIP, the Farm Bill, Immigration, etc. What I have an issue with is that the boards can be anonymous, and are appointed people by the publisher, which can create a major slant (e.g., Wall Street Journal).

The Herald News can be a shoddy newspaper. Its coverage lacks depth, sometimes just reporting what was commented on the press release. This is not the fault of the reporters - the paper runs a shoestring staff. Events in the city are often not covered, or only mentioned.

In this case, I think the endorsements point to a problem of writing and thoroughness, rather than a larger question of should or shouldn’t newspapers have an editorial board.

Lefty said...

anon,

I actually thought about that when I wrote the post.

In the format used I think that endorsements do offer an unfair advantage to the candidates that receive them.

I think that a paper can endorse but should do so by listing all the candidates, outlining their pros and cons and then selecting based on that.

This format would give you and me the ability to read the endorsements but see if we weigh another candidates pros as more important to us.

I agree that editorial boards are " meant to offer an informed, educated opinion." However, I also think the newspaper has an obligation to inform and educate. The Herald (and many other papers) could do a much better job in that respect.