Scott McIntosh

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You may have seen the letter to the editor last week about election coverage. The ink is barely dry on the filing paperwork, but we’re already being criticized for not covering the city elections, which are still more than six weeks away.

In my experience, it’s a delicate balance of getting information out early enough but not too early that the voters have processed and forgotten the information well before Election Day.

So I usually target the bulk of our coverage in the final couple of weeks before the election. As usual, that will include an election guide (Oct. 29), forums (still working on setting those dates, but they’ll be the weeks of Oct. 16 and Oct. 23), endorsements, letters to the editor and stories.

Our plan right now is to host one forum for all of the Nampa city candidates in Nampa and one forum for all of the Caldwell city candidates in Caldwell on separate nights. We have the Nampa forum tentatively scheduled for 6:30-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at Nampa City Hall in council chambers. We’re still working on the Caldwell forum, but we’re shooting for the week of Oct. 23. I’ll keep you posted on that.

What has worked well in the past is to divide each forum in half. For the Nampa forum, we’ll have the mayoral candidates first, for about 45 minutes to an hour, then we’ll take a short break and bring up all of the City Council candidates for an hour or so. We’ll do the same for the Caldwell candidates: first, the mayoral candidates, then the City Council candidates.

The format will be the usual: opening statements, then a series of questions from a panel and then closing statements.

I’ve found that this format gives viewers a good idea of where the candidates stand on the issues, why they hold those positions, who is informed of the issues and where the candidates differ.

So good, in fact, we use these forums as the basis for the editorial board’s endorsements.

One thing we’re going to try this year that’s different is to put all of the election letters to the editor into the election guide all at once. We’ve already received several letters, and we’re saving them up for the election guide. Stay tuned.

So hold tight. Don’t hit the panic button just yet. I know this is going to be a well-watched election, and I love it when readers get interested and excited about local elections. It’s our bread and butter, it’s what we do best and it’s what we do better than anyone else.

In the meantime, what are the issues most important to you? Send me an email with the issues that you want the candidates to address. What questions do you have for them?

Stay tuned. Election coverage is coming.

Oh, and by the way, I know there’s a lot of buzz about the races for governor, lieutenant governor and First Congressional District, but the primaries for those races aren’t until May. Right now, we’re just focused on the next election, Nov. 7.

Scott McIntosh is the editor of the Idaho Press-Tribune. Call 465-8110 or email smcintosh@idahopress.com.

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