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Campaigning in the time of coronavirus

Don’t look now, but there’s an election coming up, and Rosebud Media wants to help you navigate it.

As stressful and frustrating as it is to be cooped up at home during this time, imagine what it must be like for candidates who are running for public office. How do they campaign without violating every social distancing guideline in the book? There are no public events, no candidate forums, and going door to door isn’t likely to win over many voters. Service clubs and other civic groups aren’t holding meetings.

That leaves paid advertising. We certainly don’t object to that — it helps us keep the lights on and pay our staff. But voters tend to take campaign ads with a large grain of salt.

Then there is the voters pamphlet, which is valuable as far as it goes. But that, too, is limited to what the candidates choose to submit.

We had another idea, designed to help voters decide which candidates to vote for. Starting this week, we’ll be sending out emails to everyone who has filed to run for office, except for those running unopposed.

The emails will invite candidates, if they wish, to come, one at a time, into a studio at the Mail Tribune building and sit for a half-hour interview to be recorded on video. We will maintain the recommended personal distance during the session, and the studio will be sanitized after each visitor.

If candidates would rather not venture out, we completely understand. They can participate remotely from their home, using Skype, Facetime or any other technology they have available.

We’ll post the videos on our website, where voters can view them at their convenience. And we’ll put them outside our paywall, so non-subscribers can see them, too.

These interviews won’t be used for editorial endorsement purposes — we aren’t issuing editorial endorsements or recommendations on candidates in the primary election. They will just be another source of information that we hope voters will find useful in evaluating the candidates appearing on the ballot.

We’ll let you know when these videos become available.

Reach Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson at gnelson@rosebudmedia.com.

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