Let’s call this our “new unusual” — an election season with all its blusterous rhetoric and misleading spin, complicated by Zoom-ing candidate forums and masked campaign canvassers on your doorstep.
What is the etiquette? Do you open the door? And, really, does anyone need another Zoom meeting?
Make no mistake, what will not change is the deluge of mailed fliers and TV ads, depicting well-intentioned opposing candidates as either virtuous saints or sinister devils. I often wonder what ever happened to the notion of elections as contests of ideas, not who can dodge the most mud.
While most of us in this crisis have made an effort to pull together for the sake of each other, here come the partisans to pull us apart.
In the next two years, the mettle of elected officials will be tested mightily. State officials recently estimated the pandemic will cut $7 billion in state revenues through 2023. Fraud directed at our state unemployment system has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims.
Voters’ choices for their leaders are especially important as the state — and individuals — take these hits and scramble to recover.
After candidate filing closed earlier this month, the races are set for the 2020 election. Besides the presidential and congressional races, on the ballot are races for state Legislature, governor and other important statewide positions, including Supreme Court; attorney general; secretary of state; and chiefs of schools, public lands and insurance regulation.
The Seattle Times editorial board, which is separate from the newsroom, will be making recommendations to voters about statewide races, and most legislative races in King and Snohomish counties. How we do that is we vet the candidates who have filed, treating them as applicants for the job they seek. Are they qualified? Do they have related experience? A record of previous public service?
We also ask what unique qualities and life experiences do the candidates have that would benefit the office they seek.
And, in a time where the pandemic has required painful changes to all of our lives, these next questions are really important: Are they independent-minded? Are they committed to serving all of the people, not just the special interests that help get them into office?
We will publish our recommendations for races with three candidates or more by the time your primary ballot arrives in mid-July.
In the past, we interviewed the top candidates in person together — generally an effective way to gauge how they interact with opponents but also for each to challenge each other. These are conversations, not rehearsed spiels (although some try that).
In our new unusual, we will be conducting interviews with the candidates together again — but via Zoom.
As we get ready, we would like to hear from you. How will you be deciding which candidates to vote for, whether for Congress, governor or state representative? What questions would you like to ask if you were in that Zoom meeting?
Please send me your questions. We will be using your suggestions to help us shape our interviews.