A word from the editor about our election coverage:
This election cycle we asked candidates a series of yes/no questions. Several candidates have declined to answer these questions, in most cases while still answering our long-form questions. So we wanted to address this approach.
The questions address a series of hot-button issues that are extremely timely, including the legitimacy of the 2020 election, abortion, gun restrictions, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. In addition to the six yes/no questions, we also asked each candidate six other questions and allowed them a response of up to 250 words.
Why These Yes/No Questions
These questions were chosen because they are so timely right now, showing up in Supreme Court decisions and daily headlines. Some of them cut to the very heart of our democracy and who society recognizes as a person.
Even on a local, city level these questions are relevant. For example, five out of the six have shown up in some form in City Council in the last two years—and on the last one, gun restrictions, the state preempts local action. However, that wouldn’t stop City Council from passing a resolution urging the state to drop the preemption so the city could, for example, ban guns in the Council chambers. If that seems like a silly issue to raise, you should know there are bullet-proof vests under the table at each Council seat.
We took this approach because it allowed us to cover more ground and understand where candidates stand quickly. These questions in particular could provide helpful information to voters with a simple response. Also, another benefit of a yes/no approach is that candidates can’t waffle around a hot-button issue.
Reasons for Not Answering
Candidates gave varying reasons for not answering. We tried to summarize their explanation as well as we could in the space available.
Several candidates said these questions require a more in-depth response. Of course they do.
Others said these questions are divisive. Of course they are.
A simple yes or no is never going to cover the nuance and depth of any of the complex issues our elected officials face. However, it is a shorthand for where these candidates stand and a starting point. A candidate’s website, for example, is a good place to go more in-depth on their specific stance and the nuances they see in an issue.
If you want to know more about where a candidate stands, we always encourage voters to ask candidates directly.
One of the foundational purposes of West St. Paul Reader is to inform local voters. We as citizens deserve to have an informed electorate, and we take our responsibility to inform voters very seriously.
Being an elected official is a tough job and we have great respect for anyone willing to step up and run for office. However, doing so means they are answerable to voters.
We’ll do our job to ask candidates questions. How (and if) they answer is up to them, but either way it will serve to inform voters.
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