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What do you want in election coverage?

Frankly, I'm a bit excited about this year's civic election in New Westminster. There are four, count 'em, four mayoral candidates.

Frankly, I'm a bit excited about this year's civic election in New Westminster. There are four, count 'em, four mayoral candidates.

I don't know if that reflects political ambition, community pride, civic duty, frustration or mid-life crisis, but it makes for a much more interesting race.

And then there's the school board - which has its own drama.

It would be too simplistic to call this a pro-development versus anti-development race but there's certainly some criticism being leveled at a city council that has probably done more to rev up the speed of change in the city than several preceding councils before it.

Is the criticism warranted? Will this be the biggest issue in the election? Well that's for voters to determine.

And what will this newspaper's role in the campaigns be as we get closer to Nov. 19?

We'll be doing profiles on the candidates - posting extra election content on our website - hopefully asking the candidates some tough questions, and offering voters a chance to weigh in through letters to the editor and on our blogs.

But, of course, there are limits. Now that the candidates are official - while we will accept letters to the editor from candidates - they must be on a topical issue and must be short. Letters extolling one's personal virtues or political accomplishments will not be published.

Similarily letters that attack other candidates on a largely personal basis will not be published. Letters on a story that has been published in our paper or on our website will be considered.

Is there a guarantee that letters will be published? No. But I will endeavour to pick the letters based on community interest and, hopefully, publishing ones that bring more voices to the table.

Will everybody agree with my choices? I can say with some certainty that my choices will not please everyone. That's the nature of opinion pages. It is also the nature of any coverage during elections.

We will strive for fairness, balance and objectivity - that is, after all, what we should be doing. But one person's view of the fairness of a story or photo or placement of a story can be completely different from another person's view.

I remember one election where one candidate counted how many times they were quoted and where their quotes ended up in stories. In their view they had less coverage and therefore there was less balance in the coverage.

Well, I'm sorry to say that's not how we measure balance or fairness. It's not by the letter, paragraph or placement.

Some folks may simply babble on without really saying anything. I get the plan. Try to avoid being pinned down.

Well, we are in the news business and we tend to look for news.

If you think you're going to be quoted just because you deserve the same amount of space as someone who actually says something newsworthy - you might want to rethink your campaign plan.

And, yes, I understand that what one person considers newsworthy may not be newsworthy to another person.

We will also be producing a special election section on Nov. 16.

In the past we've approached the sections in different ways: questions for candidates; stories on election issues; and candidate profiles.

This week I'll be finalizing our plan, and I'd really like to hear from voters, readers and candidates about what they think would be most useful.

In particular, I'd like to hear from readers about what they want and need to know, both about and from the candidates.

Please email me at ptracy@royalcityrecord. com with your thoughts.

Pat Tracy is the editor of The Record newspaper.