No, we didn’t forget to include the Port of Seattle or Bellevue City Council or the Auburn mayor or any of the other races in King County that aren’t part of our voter guide. We simply do not have enough staff to write that many short biographies, and ask for photos and build more pages and do all the other work that went into creating our new Seattle and King County voter guide.
As I’ve said before in this space, journalism is expensive. We do our best with the staff we have. If you want Crosscut to do more, here’s the link to our fundraising page. (Yes, I’m asking you directly to donate because I do not hide the fact that our donors pay my salary, just as subscribers pay the salaries of newspaper editors.)
Back to your questions. People have asked why Bruce Harrell’s section of the guide did not include his answers to the policy questions we sent to the Seattle mayor and city council candidates. I'm happy to report he turned in his answers on Thursday and we've updated the guide.
When I checked in with his team last week, after the deadline had passed, I asked when we could expect his answers and received this message in an email: “As you can imagine, lots going on. It is on our list and hope to get you answers sometime in the next several days.” As soon as we received Harrell’s answers, we added them to the guide. Every candidate we asked to answer your questions have done so.
I am sympathetic to the challenge our questions posed for the candidates. The questions you, the readers, sent in were tough. The required responses were not something the candidates could just cut and paste from their websites and brochures. We also set a strict maximum word count for their answers.
But for candidates who questioned our request, my answer is: What is more important than addressing the issues the voters ask you to speak to? If you met the candidates for mayor face to face, would you, a prospective voter, accept an answer of: “I’m so busy; I’ll get to your question when I have time”?
I believe most of the candidates who sent in their answers actually spent a few hours in front of a computer thinking about their answers to your questions. More than 250 of you shared in this experiment of setting a “citizens agenda.” Pat yourselves on the back for taking an active role in our democracy.
A reader named Randy wrote to express his disappointment that Crosscut didn't include endorsements in our voter guide. Readers regularly share this complaint.
"I'm afraid your somewhat bland recitation of overviews of the candidates is NOT very helpful. It may be less controversial to avoid endorsements, but knowing that ‘"Crosscut says ____ is the best candidate’" would be much more helpful.
"I suppose one of the better models for election info is, oddly, The Stranger. Their positions are stated plainly so that readers may judge for themselves which candidate would be best.
"I'm sorry that you have avoided endorsing candidates.”
Crosscut audience engagement manager Anne Christnovich’s response to Randy:
"We actually can't make endorsements — we're not legally allowed to. It's part of the conditions for our nonprofit status."
Here's how the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press explains it:
‘"Nonprofits that receive tax-exempt status under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are prohibited from participating or intervening in 'any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.' A tax-exempt nonprofit news organization that endorses a candidate for political office, a function routinely performed by news outlets, runs the risk of losing its federal tax-exempt status. The Internal Revenue Code further prohibits §501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofits from devoting a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation.’"
Now fill out your ballots and turn them in. If you need more help, check out the FAQs on the Crosscut Voter Guide, which Randy endorsed as "very helpful."