Waiting until candidates qualify for election season

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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Over the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard of numerous candidates announcing their intentions to run for public office in the upcoming election, which is now less than three months away.

There have been posts on social media, public announcements and plenty of news swirling around the election. And the truth is, you’ve been able to read about it everywhere but here.

So why is that?

Our policy is to wait until election qualifying to write about each candidate in an ode to fairness. It’s obviously news if the sheriff or a county commissioner announce their intentions to run for re-election. However, if we write those stories, we’d also need to write a story on anyone else who raised their hand and said they were going to run for public office as well.

And who knows who would actually go through the qualifying process, which isn’t difficult, but does require paying a fee and meeting the minimum requirements of the position.

If a candidate says they are running for the election and then doesn’t qualify, then what’s the point? Everyone in Troup County could theoretically announce their candidacy for the upcoming election if they wanted, but we doubt everyone would actually go through the qualifying process. By waiting to write stories or publish announcements, we give every candidate the same opportunity.

We’ve got a good example.

Every year, we receive letters to the editor endorsing candidates. (We love when the community writes letters to us, so please keep them coming). And almost every year, we receive a few before qualifying. In one of the most recent elections, we received several letters to the editor endorsing a candidate for one of top positions in the county.

We held onto those letters, waiting to publish them until after the candidate qualified for that position. However, that candidate never actually qualified for that particular position, meaning the letters would’ve been pointless to publish.

It won’t be long before you start reading a lot of information about the upcoming election in our paper. Our coverage will ramp up the week of qualifying. That’s when we’ll start writing stories on who has qualified for each position around the county, giving each candidate a chance to speak about why they are running.

We will also allow candidates to write a 300-word campaign announcement, which will give background information on their experience and why they want to run for the position. We’ll have more information on these announcements around qualifying, but if you’re a candidate running for office, take note that this is how we will handle those announcements moving forward. A photo will also publish with each announcement.

Those announcements will typically publish at the bottom left-hand corner of our front page on weekdays. Candidates that send in an announcement over the word limit will be sent a revised copy and will get to double check the edits before publication. We’re looking forward to election season in Troup County, and wanted to provide a peek behind the curtain on why we handle elections the way we do.