As everyone knows, this is an unusual election year; a highly contentious national election, a super-charged vote on three cruise ship referenda (limited to Key West residents only), all while we continue to contend with an unprecedented pandemic.
These circumstances lay the foundation for a prickly final few weeks of election season. And what we end up with, winner and loser-wise, is really anyone’s guess.
The Key West Citizen has felt an obligation to the community to make candidate recommendations, as the local newspaper and the strongest media voice in Monroe County. We consider this a sovereign duty and responsibility, but as so much has changed of late in both the media and political landscapes, we don’t believe recommendations are prudent this year. Here’s why:
• The most credible candidate recommendation emanates from in-person meetings with each candidate. Two years ago, we arranged for members of our Editorial Board to interview the candidates in person, ask questions, probe on issues and end each 40-minute conversation with a fairly firm feel for what the candidate believes, will support and what that person’s strengths and weaknesses involve.
• This year, that process is not feasible. From a safety standpoint alone, it wouldn’t be appropriate to the candidates and their staff, the Board and our employees, since those interviews would have occurred at The Citizen office.
• Additionally, Hometown! has conducted four candidate sessions and much of what we would have explored was done so in those forums. Videos of those gatherings can be viewed at https://hometownkeywest.com/ or on YouTube.
• Another reason is because voting by mail is already well underway. The turnout for voting by mail is more popular this year than ever before, again, because of the pandemic and it is conceivable that upward of 20% of all registered voters will have already submitted their ballots before our recommendations would have published.
• Another reason, and directly connected to voting by mail, is that many people have already made up their minds, which is one reason their votes were submitted so early in the election season. Plus, our recommendation would likely have done little to change early opinions and would have published too late for those voters.
As we said, this is an election season that combines many extraordinary elements.
Political feelings may never be stronger and because of this, more and more local newspapers are moving away from recommendations due to the polarizing nature of the 2020 election season.
Like the population, our Editorial Board is comprised of a diverse group of people and opinions, and it’s uncertain whether we could have come to a consensus on the candidates or referenda. Anything less than consensus wouldn’t have satisfactorily expressed the impartial opinion of the Key West Citizen.
For all these reasons, we will instead publish candidate profiles in the following days and do a deeper dive on the state Constitutional Amendments, which we believe would serve our readers well.
Thank you for your reliance on our newspaper and for your understanding during these unprecedented times.
Richard Tamborrino is the Publisher and Editor of the Key West Citizen and Free Press newspapers.