With a high-stakes, high-profile election just around the corner, everyone is looking for information.
Certainly, there’s no shortage of it.
Cable news networks, political websites, Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of assorted blogs toss out facts and opinions — often intermingled — at a dizzying rate.
With all the conflicting information saturating the airwaves and the internet, it can be more than a bit overwhelming.
Lost in all the clatter and clutter is some of the most crucial information needed for an informed decision on Election Day — and that is, the pertinent facts surrounding local election races.
That local angle — a commodity only a community newspaper can consistently provide — is something the Herald has made a priority during its 130 years of commitment to quality journalism.
The recently concluded National Newspaper Week emphasized the theme, “America Needs Journalists” — and that has never been more true than in this unprecedented year of 2020.
But even more to the point, America needs community journalists — reporters, photographers and editors who work in our community and consistently strive to provide thorough, timely and fact-based coverage of the issues and events that impact our lives on a daily basis.
Local municipal, school board and county elections certainly qualify as events that have the potential to carry a tremendous impact, on several levels.
A city council decision can determine what services and programs are available to residents — and at what cost. A single council member’s vote can often decide whether taxes are increased, fees are raised or whether a program is funded. Likewise, policies dictating future growth and development, sanitation services and water resources can be approved or rejected by just one member’s raised hand.
A school board’s decisions can determine where a child goes to school and the curriculum they study, what resources are provided for students and teachers, the size of a teacher raise and the amount residents pay in taxes.
Once our council and school board members are sworn into office, we hand them our tax money and authorize them to decide how best to spend it — and that’s a considerable gamble. It places a premium on the need to know how candidates likely would vote before we put them in office.
That’s where the true value of a community newspaper comes to light.
The Herald is committed to providing readers with thorough information on the candidates who are asking for their votes. It’s a commitment that begins long before campaign signs begin to make their appearance in yards and on street corners around the local area.
Over the past six months of this extended campaign (many local elections were moved from May to November because of the coronavirus pandemic) the Herald has asked a series of issue-oriented questions to Killeen council and school board candidates and has published them in print, and online. The questions were designed to help differentiate the candidates, give them a chance to weigh in on pertinent issues, and to help prospective voters formulate their choices based on the issues discussed.
In early March, the Herald conducted a forum for Killeen City Council candidates, just two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic necessitated the cancellation of large public gatherings.
The Herald also has conducted video interviews with the Killeen council and school board candidates; those videos are available for viewing online on the Herald’s politics page, kdhnews.com/centerforpolitics.
Now, with the start of early voting just two days away, the Herald has assembled a comprehensive election guide designed to give readers valuable insight into races ranging from county constable to president of the United States.
It’s not a small undertaking — encompassing nearly half of today’s edition — but in this unusual election season in which so many races are up for grabs at the same time, the project is important and necessary.
In all, the Herald’s election coverage features 18 local races, written by Herald staff writers, as well as those of our sister publication, the Temple Daily Telegram via FME News Service.
In the races for Killeen City Council, Copperas Cove City Council, Killeen ISD board and state House District 54, the Herald has provide a matrix-format Q&A with the candidates, to provide a side-by-side comparison of where they stand on the issues.
The majority of races featured will include a highlight summary of each candidate along with an overview of the campaign for each position.
The Herald also continues its ongoing issue-based campaign reporting, as our Killeen city reporter asks City Council members and council candidates their opinions regarding the police chief’s decision to continue employing the controversial practice of no-knock warrants.
Of course, today’s package also includes early voting times and locations for those wanting to cast their ballots between Tuesday and Oct. 30. With a high voter turnout anticipated, it’s a sensible strategy.
Granted, this is a lot of election information to absorb.
But the Herald is committed to providing the news and information our readers need in order to make an informed decision at the ballot box — and this year, there are more ballot choices than at any time in recent history.
As a community newspaper, telling the full story is more than our job; it’s our responsibility.
Yes, America needs journalists, just as America needs committed candidates at all levels of public office. We all share the same goals of responsive, transparent government.
Through a commitment to thorough, fact-based reporting, community journalists can do their part to keep our nation strong — not just during election season but throughout the year.
Please take the time to read our election coverage in today’s edition — though it make take a while.
Learn about the candidates and their positions on the issues. Then head to the polling place of your choice and make your voice heard.
Keeping our democracy — and our community — strong and vibrant is in all our interests.
Let’s all do our part to make that happen.