Heights Observer's election policy: more—and less—of the same
In this year’s Nov. 2 general election, Cleveland Heights voters will elect a mayor for the first time in the city’s history. If more than two mayoral candidates file valid petitions (with the required number of signatures) with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by the June 16 deadline, CH voters will first narrow the field in a Sept. 14 primary election.
In addition, four CH City Council seats, three UH City Council seats, and three CH-UH Board of Education seats will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In past local-election years, the Heights Observer's election policy limited contributions by candidates to online-only publication in the month or two prior to the November election. The intent was to manage the potential of having more last-minute submissions from candidates than we could publish in limited print space. At the same time, the policy put no such limitation on candidates' supporters. So, what was to prevent a spokesperson or supporter from acting as the voice of a candidate?
In looking ahead at this year’s potentially denser local-election schedule, and likely more-crowded field of candidates, the Heights Observer’s advisory committee decided on a different approach—one that doesn’t prohibit submissions from candidates at any point:
Heights Observer Election Policy
“The Heights Observer will review election-related submissions with a goal of providing fair and equitable access for those seeking office.
"Candidates for office are expected to identify themselves as such when submitting anything for publication.
"Candidates' supporters and campaign representatives, and anyone writing about any candidate or election issue, are expected to disclose any personal or professional relationship they may have with any candidate, or with the subject of their submission. These disclosures are intended to inform Heights Observer review, and will be disclosed to readers when relevant.
"The Heights Observer will determine whether and when submissions will run in print, online, or both.
"Contributions by and about candidates, and any election issue, are limited to a maximum of 400 words.
“The Heights Observer does not endorse candidates, nor does FutureHeights, the nonprofit community-development corporation that publishes the Heights Observer.”
Besides the change in word-count limit, the rest of what is detailed in the policy is, in practice, how we already operate. For example, we regularly receive more articles in any given month than we can accommodate in print. Some articles, inevitably, are published online only.
We publish opinions on all sides of an issue, provided we hear from all sides. If you feel your point of view is not represented in the Heights Observer’s pages, write and submit an opinion.
We ask that all contributors disclose any personal or professional connections to a subject they write about. When they don’t, and we suspect there might be one, we ask; but we don’t have researchers and fact-checkers to delve deep—we operate on the honor system.
The thing is, everyone who writes an article or opinion and submits it to the Heights Observer has some connection to the subject. If they didn’t care—if, for example, they didn’t feel strongly about a school levy, or want to let the community know about a volunteer effort, or a book by a Heights author, or a business success—they wouldn’t take the time to write in the first place.
So, take the time to write about what concerns and interests you, whether it's an opinion or an article. The Heights Observer’s success as a community forum relies on the contributions it receives from all members of the Heights community.
[Editor's note: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, who pointed out that there will be four, not three, CH City Council seats on the November ballot, I’ve corrected this column accordingly.
The fourth seat is that of former council member Melissa Yasinow, who resigned on March 2, 2020. (As a CH resident who is keenly aware that the six current council members have not be able, or willing, to appoint a seventh member, I can’t explain how I overlooked this long-vacant seat in the original column. It may be worth noting that the CH City Council page on the city’s website, where I looked to find expiration dates for council members’ current terms, lists only six council members, along with their photos. There is no mention there of a council vacancy, nor that the current term of the vacant seat will expire on Dec. 31, 2021.)]
Kim Sergio Inglis
Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer, and is a Cuyahoga County master gardener volunteer.