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3/10 Editorial

'Letters' guidelines for election season

The deadline has passed for candidacy filings. Hot-button issues have qualified for the ballot. That means another election season is upon us in Polk County.

Voters in the region will face key issues and important races during Oregon's May 18 vote-by-mail primary election. Ballots go out April 30.

Issues facing voters include the creation of an Oregon State University-Polk County Extension Service taxing district, which all voters in Polk County will weigh in on. City of Dallas residents will determine the fate of a street maintenance fee approved earlier this year by the Dallas City Council. And Monmouth residents will decide whether or not to end a ban on the sale of hard alcohol in their community.

There are several primary races for elected office at the local, state and national level. Among those are Positions 2 and 3 on the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

These topics -- and many more -- will be addressed by writers submitting "Letters to the Editor" to the Itemizer-Observer during the next nine weeks.

Writers who would like to submit a letter endorsing a candidate or wanting to take a stand on one of the local issues are welcome to do so. But a word of caution and a friendly reminder: please follow the I-O's longstanding letters to the editor policy concerning the length of letters on election-related subjects.

All election letters are limited to 100 words -- no exceptions. If your subject is related to an issue or candidate on the ballot, you get 100 words. Several letters during past election seasons have either been sent back to the authors asking to shorten them to 100 words or they have gone unpublished because guidelines weren't followed.

The 100-word limit not only encourages letters and dialogue, but allows for the publication of as many different viewpoints from as many people as possible. The amount of news space available to publish letters is limited each week and is another reason for limiting the length to 100 words. The 100-word limit also makes the messages more effective -- a point succinctly made is much more likely to be read and remembered by the people you are trying to influence.

Form letters, or letters written by someone else and signed by you, will be automatically rejected.

One other reminder about our policy concerning election letters: once you have written and we have published your letter, we will not accept any additional political letters from you during the current election season.

All letters must be submitted by 10 a.m. on Mondays to be considered for publication. Not all letters submitted are accepted, and due to those space limitations previously mentioned, some letters may be held until the following week's paper or may appear only on the I-O's Web site.

We look forward to sharing your views about candidates and issues during this election season.

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