Goal of U-B endorsements to spur debate

Election endorsements will be made in only the state Supreme Court races since they could be decided in the primary.

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Generally, the Union-Bulletin does not do endorsements in the primary election as the purpose of that election is to narrow the field rather than select the person who will hold office.

But because Washington election law allows for winners of nonpartisan races to be selected at the primary election, we will be making endorsements this year in two races for state Supreme Court.

It is possible the Union-Bulletin will offer endorsements in partisan primary races in the future if it becomes clear doing so will serve the public in becoming better informed.

The primary process used to be controlled by political parties, which was a reason we opted to wait until the general election to make endorsements. But the state's independent-minded voters used the initiative process to take control of the primary elections when they adopted the top-two system. Now the top-two vote getters in a race, regardless of their political affiliation, face off in the general election.

The public -- and the politicians -- are still getting used to the system. Aug. 17 is only the second time it will have been used.

Over time, our policy on endorsements might change. For now, however, we will continue to wait until the general election.

Our reason for making endorsements will not change.

Some people have misconceptions about the motives of the Union-Bulletin's endorsements. They seem to believe the U-B hopes to influence the outcome of elections. Some even believe the newspaper hopes citizens will take its list of recommendations and mark their ballots accordingly.

That's not the case.

Whether voters agree with the recommendations is unimportant compared with the importance of making an informed vote.

The Union-Bulletin believes it has a responsibility to the community to try to stimulate interest and debate in the campaigns.

We believe one of the best ways to do this is to make recommendations, giving voters an entry point for discussions and debates about each issue and each race.

The opinions expressed in the Union-Bulletin's recommendations are those of its four-person editorial board, consisting of Publisher Rob Blethen, Editorial Page Editor Rick Eskil, Editor Rick Doyle and Lacey Town, human resources manager.

Endorsements are based on information obtained in interviews with the candidates and research of candidates and the issues in each campaign.

Recommendations are always published in time to allow opposing viewpoints from candidates or interested citizens.

The recommendations in the Supreme Court races will be published Thursday and Friday. Walla Walla County ballots are being mailed Friday.

The deadline for letters to the editor regarding the primary election for all races, including the races for sheriff and coroner, is Aug. 10 at noon. If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.

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