Editor’s Note: Elections 2014

Editor’s Note: Elections 2014

Michele Ellson

Two and a half weeks ago I got an e-mail from my colleague Steven Tavares, who runs the East Bay Citizen political website. It contained a link to a 20-year-old Los Angeles Times story about the arrests of seven people accused of participating in an auto insurance fraud ring – one of them an Alameda city councilman.

“Have you ever seen this story about Stewart Chen?” he asked.

I hadn’t – not in 2012 when I was covering the election that saw Chen win a two-year term on the council, nor in 2010 when he ran for and won a seat on the Alameda Health Care District Board, which oversees Alameda Hospital.

And that means I need to work a little harder.

One of the media’s most important functions is to serve as your watchdog. We are responsible for keeping a close eye on your leaders, elected and otherwise, and for making sure the public’s interests are safeguarded. When we fail to do that, we are failing to fulfill our mission and our responsibility to our readers and the public at large.

The Alamedan’s coverage for the 2012 election was intended to familiarize voters with the candidates and their positions on major issues, fact check their statements and find out who opened checkbooks to support their candidacies. It’s clear now that this year, we need to do much more. We were already planning to look at the voting records of incumbents seeking to keep their seats and to share what we find with our readers. And now, it’s clear we must also do thorough background checks on every local candidate for office, so that voters have all the information they need to make an informed decision before the first absentee ballots are due to go out.

You can – and should – expect us to scrutinize every line in a candidate’s resume, to examine their past and to take a good look at whether campaign promises of a few years ago have been kept. A lot of this work is being done further up the political ladder, but it’s just as important that candidates for local offices – the people who are tasked with making decisions about many of the things that affect your everyday life – get a careful review as well.

We’re looking forward to providing you more robust campaign coverage for local 2014 races. As always, if you’ve got questions or suggestions about how we can better cover the upcoming election, feel free to e-mail me at michele@thealamedan.org.

Comments

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on Fri, Feb 14, 2014

Go get 'em!

Submitted by Keith Nealy (not verified) on Sat, Feb 15, 2014

Keep doing the great job you're doing. We're very grateful to have you supply unvarnished impartial reporting that gets at the facts.

Submitted by marian on Tue, Feb 18, 2014

Thanks for the great coverage, Michele! For reasons I don't understand, the LA Times seems to do a much better job on investigative journalism than our SFChronicle/Examiner ever has.
More food for thought: Stewart Chen listed 33 hi-profile individuals who endorsed him in BBA’s pre-election post:

http://laurendo.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/you-asked-they-answered-stewart...

You mean to tell me all of these individuals knew about his background and still endorsed him [like Trish Spencer, Karin Lucas, Frank Matarrese]?? Or was this list fabricated, too?

Tragedies like Bell, CA don't happen overnight. If Bell city officials had been identified early in their careers for what they are, Bell wouldn't be in the shape it is in today.

Submitted by SFALA (not verified) on Thu, Feb 20, 2014

Very professional note. We realize you have declining resources like everybody else. Perhaps there's a way to encourage community research and input on that kind of political backgrounding.

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