GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

August 17, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? 'Mayor's Desk' sidelined during campaign

You might notice that there’s a regular feature missing from this Saturday morning’s Opinion page.

That’s right. “The Mayor’s Desk,” the regular column in which Mayor Carolyn Kirk shares her views and often gives Times readers an inside look at the happenings within city government, is not appearing this week. And, in fact, it won’t be appearing for several weeks to come, barring unforeseen circumstances.

It’s not because the mayor doesn’t like writing it; I know, in fact, that she does, and while she agreed to place it on hold when we discussed the issue briefly this week, I’m sure she’d like to continue writing it – just as I’m sure many folks would want to read it as well.

But the simple fact is this: Once developer Mac Bell received certification for his more than 300 signatures Wednesday and officially earned a spot on the ballot, challenging Kirk for the mayor’s seat, “The Mayor’s Desk” was placed on hiatus until after the November elections.

Why, you may ask, is your community’s newspaper doing that?

Because we recognize — and the mayor understands — that, as long as there is a contested race underway, we cannot give one candidate or the other an advantage in terms of getting out their positions on issues.

Yes, both the mayor and challenger Bell will have the chance to raise and debate issues as the race moves forward. Both will certainly have the chance to speak directly to voters through campaign advertising, and each can do so through a single My View column whenever they choose. We will also certainly look to host an open and public campaign debate as the election draws near.

But it would be unfair — even if challenger Bell were to respond with weekly columns or letters of his own — if we continued to allow the mayor to have her own, regularly scheduled, anchored column at the top of the Opinion page each Saturday morning. And we won’t.

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