It's election time, so keep those letters coming

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 8:11 PM


After what seems like the longest presidential election ever, local and national elections are now less than two months away.

Most letters in the Times will pertain to local election candidates and issues, but we do welcome letters on state and national issues if they are written by someone local.

So I thought this was a good time to review our letters policy and explain why we have it in place.

I print just about every letter I receive written by a local resident (Ignacio, Bayfield, Vallecito, Arboles, Allison, Durango, Pagosa) or pertaining to a local issue. I'm always a little surprised when people say, "Oh, you must have liked my letter - you printed it."

What I like is irrelevant. It's your option to write a letter or not, it's my job to print them. I do delete the letters from New Hampshire and California about intergalactic aliens written by someone who has never set foot in Colorado.

Letters are limited to 350 words or less. They must be signed and state where you live (just the general area - I don't need your street address) and a telephone number so I can call and confirm that you actually wrote it. For those who complain about the word limit on letters, I would like to point out it's 150 to 175 words for letters to the New York Times. To be perfectly honest, no one is going to read a half-page letter about anything.

Anonymous letters, in my opinion, are for chickens. You write it, you put your name on it. I don't think any newspapers print anonymous letters anymore, which is a good thing.

Deadline for letters is noon Wednesday, but even if you get it in by then, I can't guarantee when or if it will run.

Those are all my rules for letters to the editor. I reserve the right to edit letters, but usually this only involves correcting spelling, or changing a business name if it's incorrect.

Of course, letters to the editor involve some give and take. If you present your opinions in public, some people might respond, and it might not be all flowers and hearts.

Remember that you're writing about your neighbors. If you call Joe Blow a stupid meaniehead, he might not pull you out of that snowbank when you get stuck this winter.

I don't like printing "gotcha" letters, i.e., "Candidate Bigpants beats his dog," and it is sent to me just in time for our Nov. 4 edition, with the election on Nov. 8.

If I receive those, I will either not run it, or I will contact Candidate Bigpants to give him or her the opportunity to respond in the same issue. It basically depends if I have to time to contact the other side or candidate. If not, your letter won't run that week.

Also, if you're taking the time to write a letter, please write something besides "Candidate Bigpants is a great guy." That might be true, but personally, I would like to know what you specifically like about his policies or ideas.

I do appreciate you taking the time to read the paper and write your letters. The opinion page is the heart of a newspaper, and I include as many viewpoints as I can in our pages.

Thanks for reading.