A questionable choice by Ward

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Faithful readers of the Suffolk News-Herald will not be surprised to learn that this newspaper will once again this year choose not to endorse candidates for Tuesday’s election.

We believe that such endorsements accomplish little in the election cycle besides giving candidates more material for their campaigns. Media endorsements give unendorsed losers reasons to blame something besides their own un-electability for their failure, and they give unendorsed winners reason to wonder about the ability for the media to cover their work objectively. And finally, such endorsements often simply reinforce readers’ views that the media cannot be objective in its coverage.

We believe our job, when it comes to elections, is to provide unbiased information and to allow careful readers to then decide for themselves — based on that information — who is best qualified for various offices.

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That is why we were so disappointed in the decision that City Council member Lue Ward made not to agree to an interview in support of his run for the office of Commissioner of the Revenue.

Ward’s opponent in the race, Susan Draper, is facing her first opposition in an election after having been promoted into the position when former commissioner Thomas Hazelwood retired from the post. She agreed to the interview, and Sunday’s edition featured a story about her that appeared on the page beside a short notice of Ward’s having declined.

Ward’s campaign signs around town encourage voters to help him “make history again,” which we must assume is a reference to the fact that he would be the first African American to be elected in a city-wide election, after the city has been served by its first woman in that office.

Unfortunately, Ward’s decision to pass on the interview in the city’s only widely read newspaper suggests that the councilman is more interested in the history he could make for himself than in the actual work of interacting with the people he would be called to serve as commissioner of the revenue. Citizens have a right to expect their commissioner to be available to them. Ward’s choice, however, raises serious questions about whether he takes that responsibility seriously.

Ward was given multiple opportunities to set an appointment for this interview. He told a reporter he would call back and then didn’t, and when the reporter saw him at City Hall and asked in person for an interview, he declined. This wasn’t a matter of the newspaper’s availability; it was entirely a matter of his own choice to make himself unavailable.

Readers and other voters should consider his actions carefully and decide for themselves what they say about the man who wants to be in charge of the city’s taxing authority and what it says about how available he might be when they have a question about their property taxes or need to get their business licenses or want to be sure their state income taxes have been prepared properly.