New process employed for the upcoming primary endorsements

On Thursday we will begin publishing our endorsements for the July 31 Democratic and Republican primaries. Last year we invited students from Mercer University, Wesleyan College and Macon State College to participate in our process. They interviewed the candidates along with the Editorial Board comprised of Charles E. Richardson, Editorial Page Editor, Sherrie Marshall, Executive Editor and Publisher George McCanless. At the end of the process, the students deliberated and came up with the candidates they thought were best suited to be elected to the positions. Their choices did not have to agree with the Editorial Board’s positions.

This year we’ve expanded our process to include volunteers from throughout the community. We put out the call in May in several postings on the Opinion and Viewpoints pages and more than 50 people responded. We whittled down the number to 22, only because we didn’t have the space to accommodate such a large group, and too large a group would hamper the questioning process. Some of the members of the 2012 Citizen Editorial Board are pictured on the Viewpoints page. Others will be presented as we interview candidates for the Bibb County Board of Education races.

The members were engaged, informed and heartily participated. They grilled the candidates like old pros. Nothing escaped their attention In democratic fashion, we deliberated over each candidate and made a decision, usually, but not always unanimous, for the ones we thought best suited for the offices.

This process has been eye opener for the citizen board and for the Editorial Board. We found intelligent, engaged people willing to spend hours on hours discussing the issues. Some were Democrats and others Republican or Independent. This group gives us hope that the apathy we so often see, along with the partisan bickering, can be overcome as long as we have citizens willing to speak up and say enough is enough.

-- For the Editorial Board