For the past 18 years, we have carefully followed a procedure that is designed to avoid manipulation of the media, and the electorate, during a political season.
Simply put, letters to the Editor or submissions that have to do with a political issue during the campaign season need to be paid advertising.
We are generally deluged with letters supporting candidates and positions in an election season. If we ran the letters, we would be inundated with more letters, and would face allegations of bias.
As a result, I notify the letter writer that during a political season, he or she will need to pay for advertising to support a specific candidate or a position outlined by the candidate.
The candidates themselves generally identify the issues and positions that they feel are important.
As a case in point, Gail Johnson made sage grouse an election issue at a commission meeting in September. As a result, subsequent letters addressing the same issue are political in nature.
We handle the process the same, regardless of the political views of the letter writer. Some go ahead and pay for the submission, while others do not. The ads are clearly marked as paid advertising.
So far, political ads have been paid by the Bruce Adams campaign, the Gail Johnson campaign, the Ty Markham campaign, and a group that calls itself Voters in Support of Bruce Adams.
In addition, private individuals who have paid for ads, with their names on the bottom of the advertisement, include Susan Taylor, Phil Lyman, Marilyn Boynton, Lynn Stevens, Fred Snyder, and this week, Jim Garmhausen.
As you may know, these letter writers represent the full range of political feeling in the current election. To say that my policy targets one political sentiment over another is not supported by the facts.
As far as I can remember, the policy has been consistently applied for the past 18 years. It was the San Juan Record policy for decades before I came on the scene.
Of course, we also reserve the right to reject any letters, or advertisements, that are offensive, libelous, or tasteless.
To date, our news coverage of the Commission race has been limited to two (2!) articles. In addition, we have given the candidates significant free space to outline their positions. We will provide free space to them three more times before the election on November 6.