Stuart Leavenworth

Stuart Leavenworth: Questions, answers on the editorial board’s election recommendations

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 - 11:00 pm | Page 6E
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 - 8:27 am

Below are some frequently asked questions about the editorial board's recommendations for candidates and ballot initiatives, and some answers:

Who decides your endorsements?

Endorsements are made by members of The Bee's editorial board, whose names and contact information are listed in the masthead above. This information and full biographies can also be found at

The editorial board is separate from the newsroom and led by yours truly. My staff and I produce the daily opinion pages and California Forum, and have no influence on coverage in other sections of the newspaper.

What is your process for issuing endorsements?

We use a combination of research and direct interaction with candidates and proponents and opponents of ballot measures. In September and October, we held more than 90 meetings with candidates and interest groups, along with attending public forums. In most school board races, we first asked candidates to respond to a questionnaire on the issues before holding meetings.

Some newspapers no longer publish election endorsements. Why does The Bee?

As I've noted in previous columns, we offer recommendations because we publish an opinion page. It seems inconsistent to publish positions on all kinds of issues and then take a pass on the most crucial question for citizens – which candidates and ballot measures to support.

The Bee has been offering opinions and ballot recommendations for all of its history, dating back to 1857. It a tradition our current editorial board does not plan to abandon, just because a few other newspapers have chosen to do so.

Are there other reasons?

Yes. In our meetings with candidates who are actively campaigning, we learn about issues and trends from across our region. Inevitably we adjourn these meetings with tips and leads that prove invaluable in our work. The endorsement process is essential in keeping connected to our communities.

But I don't like endorsements. I don't like The Bee telling me how to vote.

We are not telling you how to vote. We are offering an opinion. Informed voters sift through a variety of information – the more, the better – before casting a ballot. By offering endorsements, we are offering readers one more source of information that they can use or reject in determining how to vote.

Why aren't you endorsing in all races within the Sacramento region?

We don't have the capacity to vet all candidates, particularly all those running in special district elections and for some school boards. So we had to pick and choose. Also, we don't issue endorsements in races we deem not to be competitive.

What happens when you think that neither candidate in a race is worthy of office? Have you ever issued no endorsement?

No, not since I became editorial page editor. I've insisted that the editorial board shouldn't dodge a call in a competitive race for an office that received our attention in previous elections. Democracy rarely presents perfect choices. Voting is hard. But if we can't muster the will to make a decision, how can we expect and urge that voters do the same, and exercise their right to vote?

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Stuart Leavenworth

Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by
Quick Job Search
Sacramento Bee Jobs »
Used Cars
Dealer and private-party ads


Price Range:
Search within:
miles of ZIP

Advanced Search | 1982 & Older