An endorsement season question

I'm spending part of Thursday morning speaking to Boise State University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. My lofty topic: "Reporting, Filtering or Shaping: The Role of the Media and Public Opinion."

That has me thinking about how our paper arrives at candidate endorsements — which we are rolling out, in advance of the Nov. 6 city elections.

We try to base our decisions on straightforward measures: the incumbents' voting record; the candidates' positions on issues we consider high priorities; the candidates' resumes and life experience. We try to keep personalities (and, in partisan elections, political affiliation) out of the equation.

I think the formula works: it enables us to explain who we support and why, so that if you disagree with us, you can still cast a more informed vote for the candidate who does suit your taste.

So here's my question: Should we consider what we learn about candidates through the process of endorsement interviews? Can we use that as a predictor of future behavior?

For example:

• When a candidate doesn't reply to e-mails about setting up an appointment, is it fair for us to wonder how committed the candidate is to elected service?

• When a candidate says it's hard to make time for an interview, citing a full-time job, is it fair to wonder whether the candidate can really put in the hours it takes to help run a city?

• When a candidate tries to set the ground rules for an interview — by requesting that all six editorial board members attend, and threatening not to show if the entire board doesn't show — is this a sign of someone who would be, if elected, a high-maintenance prima donna?

I've had all three issues arise during this year's city elections. I'm not naming names here, because I'm not sure what to do, if anything, with this anecdotal evidence.

What do you think? Should our observations from the "process" factor into our endorsement decisions? Should we endorse, but stick to tangible, substantive evidence? Or is this another sign that endorsements are doomed to be a subjective (and spurious) process?

What IS your favorite position?

"We try to base our decisions on straightforward measures:... the candidates' positions on issues we consider high priorities;...."

"The positions on issues we consider high priority."

Mr. Editor, Perhaps you could elaborate on those priority issues. As long as this paper is going to be political,,, I would like to see a summary editorial from The Statesman that says something like this:

The Statesman Editorial Board takes the opinion on the following Top 20 issues (maybe one list for Treasure Valley and one list for the state):

Sales Tax-
Local taxing disticts-
State education funding-
Water rights-
School funding-
River daming-
Gun control-

Put it all in ONE place for the upcoming elections, instead of spreading it throughout 100 different pieces. And then we can all EASILY see how your endorsements match your perfect political world. Let's see what the Treasure Valley would look like IF The Statesman editors had their way. It seems to be the endorsements are pretty much the same thing, just in cognito.

Let's cut through the fog. I would like to see how tilted the picture is, one way or the way- I doubt it rests at equilibrium.

I challenge the editors to CLEARLY express their political opinions on ALL the major issues in ONE summary piece. If you've already done such a piece and I missed the paper that day, beautiful, please direct me to it.

I see two problems with editorial endorsements:
1)It lets people be lazy. Most people do not have the time or inclination to really explore the election issues and the paper allows some (who are aligned with the editors 'side') to simply follow the newspaper opinion or simple oppose the endorsement (for those on the other side).
2) It makes the press political. The best press is unbias and it reports all the issues and stories without bias and lets people make their own endorsement.

The press should not have a political bias and should not be making endorsements of individual candidates.