On Thursday evening, Sept. 11, there was an open forum held at the Cherokee Middle School for the candidates running for the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors. During the evening there were many question presented to the candidates. They all answered the questions quickly, respectfully and hopefully honestly.
My problem with the event came on Friday when I was writing the story that ran in Monday's paper. My dilemma was what to put in and what to leave out. There were five candidates each answering the same questions. There was no way that I could print every word that was said by each candidate.
If I put in a quote from, say Dean Schmidt, I would have to put a quote in by every candidate to be fair. The next thing you know, you would still be reading the story by the time you got to the classified page. With so many candidates speaking at one time I felt there was no way to be fair and balanced. So I decided after much deliberation that it would be best not to write each and every response, or in fact any response from the candidates.
I also realized that they were not sitting down with me as a reporter to tell me what they believe in or their history in politics. That is why we at the paper try to do short stories on each candidate individually so you the public can read for themselves where a candidate stands on the issues of the day. The forum last Thursday was for the public to come out and hear the candidate's response. It happened and I reported what happened, not what they said on every question.
But is that really fair to the candidates that their answers went unpublished? The short answer is yes. My take on this goes back to my training as a reporter. You must answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why? That was accomplished in my news report, fairly without any bias to one or more of the candidates.
I did try to set a tone of what the issues that were being discussed that evening. Personally, I was very impressed with all the candidates. What it boils down to is what I think personally. In a news report a reporter cannot or should not put his personal beliefs or whom they think is a better candidate in a report.
Each voter also has a responsibility to get informed and listen to what a candidate has to say. The best way to do that is to attend a forum or pick up the phone and call the candidate. They would be glad to tell you their point of view on any issue.
When any candidate runs for a public office they stand on a soapbox to be seen and heard. All a voter has to do is listen.
As for my personal opinion on this election, well it doesn't matter. I am not a resident of Cherokee County. So I as a citizen do not have anything at stake in this election. I meet all the candidates by covering this event or that. One candidate I even work with.
The one thing I can say is that Cherokee County is very lucky to have any of the candidates running for the County Supervisors' Board. They all get the issues that this county faces in the future and they have ideas to help make this county stronger, not just to make one particular community stronger.