Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Election Crunch Time

The average voter may have finally started to focus on the Oct. 20 election. We might pick an outright winner for governor and many other statewide and local races. Runoffs will be decided Nov. 17.

This voter is searching the Internet, reading archived headlines, poring over newspapers and listening to audio of candidates. Getting this voter to the polls is the next step.

And The Times is trying to help.

Readers can review candidate bios and links on our election Web site. This section will contain the Election Guide material appearing in The Times special section published Thursday. A sample ballot can be downloaded now and will be published Friday and Saturday

While the mantra of change echoes with "don't put the same ol’ faces back in office," Northwest Louisiana might benefit from returning a few. If leaders like Billy Montgomery (running for District 37 Senate after being term-limited in the house), District 8 State Representative Jane Smith and District 38 Senator Sherri Cheek are elected, they offer a senior coalition for Northwest Louisiana capable of helping newbie legislators navigate in Baton Rouge. They have a record of helping with Cyber Command and championing their constituents’ interests.

Locally, the Caddo coroner race is the most heated -- and the most interesting. It has been more than 20 years since there has been head-on competition for this job.

Dr. Todd Thoma is facing off with incumbent Dr. Mairus McFarland. Thoma, with assists by local attorney John Settle, is taking McFarland to task on administrative and operational decisions. Thoma has raised important issues about fiscal responsibility and use of specialized nurses, but you are the final judge of whether those points merit replacing McFarland. McFarland is credited with digging the coroner's office out of a major mess left by the late Dr. George McCormick. To McFarland's credit, he acknowledges the need to explore local autopsy options and makes good points about why some out-of-state autopsies are needed.
There is more to this debate.

Try to catch up on election issues by reading a few aging election forum headlines (1, 2 and 3).

Do your homework and review tomorrow's election guide published in lieu of the Conversations section. This guide will set you up to use the sample ballots being published in The Times Friday and Saturday.

As gubernatorial negative ads dissolve into desperation, don't be deterred by the process. Instead listen to audio of gubernatorial candidate stances and points:
Part of our process includes interviewing all the candidates and offering endorsements. A group of volunteer community board members and The Times editorial board met with the local and statewide candidates over a three-week period. Phew! A recap of the endorsements published these past two weeks will be published Friday.

Newspapers do endorsements to offer a considered opinion and provoke thought. We take a stance everyday on the issues that face our community. Why would we sit out on the biggest decisions facing the future of our state, the 2007 election? You shouldn't sit out either.

The most effective and most American duty we have is to vote. See you at the polls Saturday. Follow results online and in The Sunday Times.

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