About those political columns...

We have a love/hate relationship with political columns - those mostly-self-promoting columns released every week by the folks holding the temporary jobs representing us at the state and federal level.

On one hand, the columns can be very informative (particularly about legislation working its way through the myriad paths it takes to become law), and the elected official’s view on it. Of much lesser importance to the constituency are the accounts of visitors to the Capitol and the attendance of the politician to local events in the communities they represent.

On the other hand, much of the legislative news is available elsewhere, minus the personal viewpoints. There are still a few large newspapers that maintain reporters in the State Capitol, but precious few. And, the elected officials usually maintain their own websites and feature their weekly columns there.

So, why do we still carry them?

Well, not every household has a good internet connection (or any at all in some rural areas), plus the local newspaper is still the best way to have a good communal connection to the people who vote them in (or out) of office.

We tend to run political columns based upon how informative they are and the space available.  We are interested in what the elected official has to say about legislation, particularly bills they sponsor or co-sponsor.

We are not interested at all in columns that simply parrot the party line or promote the leadership at either the state or federal level. We also have our own rule that we cease carrying political columns during campaigns for those running for re-election.  In that case the columns become more self-serving and another campaign vehicle; in essence an unfair advantage for the incumbent, no matter how much we may like them. (An exception to this rule is if a candidate is running unopposed and then the rule makes no sense.)  We usually begin to omit the column about three months before the election and take it up again if the incumbent is re-elected.

Do we publish only the columns with which we agree?  Nope, the Valley View pages would be pretty sparse if we did. It is not necessary that we agree with everything we print, nor is it necessary for you to agree with everything we print. Agree or disagree at your discretion.

To be sure there is no requirement that we run any column by any elected official, and some publishers feel such columns are so self-serving as to have no real value.  We won’t go that far, but like anything else submitted to the newspaper, we reserve the right to reject them.

Randy Pribble is the editor and publisher of The Mountain Echo. He and his wife, Sue, are the newspaper’s owners.