Russ Mitchell

The Mitchell Report

Russ Mitchell is editor of The Dickinson County News. He has been in Spirit Lake since January 2010 and began in journalism in 1997. The Mitchell Report can be about anything and everything. Comments are invited.

Finding the right spot for your message

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bonnie Ewoldt of Milford is right when she says the following:

"Iowans are dizzy from the non-stop ads coming from the [Joni] Ernst / [Bruce] Braley campaigns -- ads that want us to think Iowa is doomed if the opposing candidate is elected," she writes. "Democrats paint Ernst as an extremist planning to take Iowa back to the '50s, while Republicans portray Braley as a condescending and irresponsible oaf. Calmer heads know neither candidate is evil, or as dreadful, as depicted on TV. Both Ernst and Braley are talented politicians who earned their parties' nomination to represent Iowa in the United States Senate."

She goes on to say she supports Ernst because she wants to reduce the reach of government in business, agriculture, education and healthcare.

Jane Anthony disagrees with Ewoldt. The Dyersville resident mailed in her letter to the editor and called Braley a positive, respectful and all-inclusive champion for all generations.

Kris Rowley and Lisa Wagner of Spirit Lake support U.S. Rep. Steve King in his effort to stay in Congress. Dickinson County resident Michelle Huntress wants a change in the Iowa Attorney General's office. She supports Adam Gregg over incumbent Tom Miller.

We also appreciate a letter we received from Walter and Barbara Mendenhall. They care enough about a Lakes Regional Healthcare board seat -- a thankless job at times -- to recommend Linda Moore on Nov. 11.

The people we mention above are not apathetic and I wanted to give them credit. They care enough about their political parties and / or their candidates to type up a message and send it to their local newspaper. But, each letter puts us in a tricky position.

We want to hear from readers and host a good conversation on your opinion page. But, too often, candidate-based letters are really veiled political ads this time of year. Many of the letters we referenced were sent with good intentions. Others could be template letters -- campaigns create the content and they find a local supporter to sign his or her name at the bottom.

Broadcasters charge campaigns -- and, ugh, those third party groups -- for their messages of support (or opposition). Our newspaper space has value, too. So, please, for the next couple of weeks (and as future elections approach) we ask readers to focus on local, state and national issues in general. Avoid endorsing a specific candidate in any letters to the editor.

If you want to strongly support or oppose a party or candidate in a specific race, we encourage you to purchase a space that gets seen by thousands of readers.

And, please, continue to tell us about the issues that impact your lives. That's what an opinion page is all about.