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The Star-Tribune editorial board has used our editorial space during elections to endorse candidates in various races, from the local to the federal levels. For August’s primary, we chose to do endorsements in the Republican races for governor and U.S. Senate. And for the general, we endorsed candidates for Casper City Council, Natrona County Commission, Natrona County School Board as well as governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

The purpose of these editorials, and the reasons we chose the races that we did, is not simply to convince our readers to vote for one candidate over another, but rather to sharpen their thinking.

Specifically in the August primaries, the Republican gubernatorial race was contentious. It was our goal in endorsing a candidate to help add focus to the conversation and to give readers a chance to change their own thinking, or more likely, defend it further.

During this month’s general election, we felt that endorsements in the local races would be even more useful to readers. The local races were many and the candidates diverse. Offering our perspective on a few of the bigger local races, such as the multiple open seats in each City Council ward, was meant as a resource for voters.

In the bigger races, such as a the governor’s race or the federal races, many voters made up their minds well before we offered our endorsements, and were likely unchanged by our input regardless. But we hope that in reading our endorsements voters were able to at least sharpen their thinking – learn about the candidate they weren’t planning to vote for, or remain steadfast in their decision because of or despite our endorsement.

Before we chose any candidate, we invited each to visit with the board, where we asked questions about the issues we felt mattered most to our readers. And usually, choosing a candidate to endorse required lengthy debate among the board. In some cases, we were divided over who to endorse and the majority decision ruled. We sought to pick someone who we thought would do the best job, not always the person whose politics most aligned with the politics of this board.

When we considered each candidate, we reflected on the goals we outlined earlier this year: to promote government transparency and openness; to foster conversation about reasonable solutions to our dependency on fossil fuel extraction; to always give a voice to the voiceless; and to engage in and promote dialogue that is civil.

We aimed to always endorse the candidates that best aligned with these goals. And should we continue to endorse any candidates during future elections, our intentions will be the same.

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