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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's time to talk about Page 4.

It's as much more your page as it is ours.

When students feel uncertain about where their next meal is coming from, you tell us about it. When the local blood drive or fundraising effort was a success, you tell us that, too.

We've had updates about the farmer's market and from temporary housing leaders who help people during a rough patch in life.

We run plenty of updates from your state and federal lawmakers so you're up-to-date with everything in Des Moines and Washington, D.C.

We want to hear from readers and host a good conversation on your opinion page.

With that in mind: Monday night's first presidential debate is behind us, so it's time to put out a gentle reminder. We have to be careful here in the newsroom about letters supporting or opposing a candidate for elected office. Too often, candidate-centered letters are really veiled political ads this time of year. Many are sent with good intentions. Others could be template letters -- campaigns create the content and they find a local supporter to plug in his or her name at the bottom.

Broadcasters charge campaigns -- and those dreaded political action groups -- for their messages of support or opposition. Our newspaper space has value, too. So, please, for the next couple of months (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 that come our way.

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.

Again, please accept our standing invitation to share your personal views or experiences about direction of the country, state or Dickinson County. Is the time right for a new middle school in Okoboji? What should we be doing about ailing oak trees in the most picturesque part of Iowa? Should we have more wind turbines in Dickinson County? What are the area's badges of honor or missed opportunities?

People are so kind in Dickinson County. In an area checkered with lakes, most folks don't want to make a lot of waves.

This newspaper reaches smart people who are engaged in their community. So, contribute to the dialogue.

We'll set aside a space for you right here on Page 4.