As this issue of Downtown Newsmagazine arrives in your home, we enter the final days prior to the election where a number of political contests and state and local issues will be decided by those who have yet to turn in their absentee ballots and those who will trudge to the polls in person on Tuesday,
Much to the chagrin, I am sure, of our detractors, you will find at the back of this issue a repeat of the endorsements we offered in our October issue for the benefit of those who planned to vote early this year.
I mention our detractors because our candidate endorsements have always drawn a reaction, and increasingly so as the nation and the state reach a crescendo of opinions from those in the minority who have mastered amplifying their voices to seem to speak for the majority.
When our general election choices on candidates and issues reached the homes in our October issue, we got feedback, some professional and courteous, and some not so much. We also had an effort by one Birmingham resident who attempted to bully our advertisers to stop appearing in Downtown Newsmagazine because we are a “manipulative leftist publication.” We reject that characterization, and any attempt to dictate to local businesses where they can advertise, as did some two dozen accounts I contacted. To them, I say thank you.
But let's look at my personal political leanings and that of our monthly newsmagazine.
Prior to launching Downtown Newsmagazine, I ran a publishing group in the western Oakland County lakes area – West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wixom, Walled Lake, Waterford through the M-59 line of White Lake, Highland and Milford. With the exception of Waterford Township, it was a solid Republican area at the time.
My mentors in the government sector were local township supervisors in West Bloomfield, Commerce and White Lake – all Republicans. From these community leaders, all of whom have since passed away, I learned the intricacies of local government. When it came to election endorsements, we generally supported GOP candidates for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, that party put forth the strongest and most knowledgeable candidates, more representative of the overall population residing in the area during those times.
There were exceptions to this, most notably in Waterford Township where the Democratic party had the more experienced candidates who, once again, represented more broadly the leanings of the community. Likewise there were Democrats in the eight communities we covered who got our endorsements, based on comparative considerations. Beyond the local communities, our election endorsements included candidates from both parties when it came to the county, state House and Senate and Congress.
Fast forward to 2010 with the start of Downtown Newsmagazine. News editor Lisa Brody and I lean more conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues. We have endorsed both Republicans and Democrats when it comes to partisan offices at the township, county and state level.
Our overriding consideration when we approach the task of determining who we will recommend for office is who has a better understanding of the issues and who can best represent the general outlook of local residents. Against the backdrop that there are no perfect candidates, in theory we send elected officials off to the county complex on Telegraph Road, the state legislature in Lansing or Congress in D.C. to represent our views, not just their own. At best it's an imperfect system.
We also take into consideration who can work across the political aisle to get something accomplished once they take office – a quality sorely lacking nowadays.
In past elections, Downtown Newsmagazine has endorsed – without hesitation – Republicans. But when we finished our endorsements this year, we noticed that after weeks of daily discussions of candidate responses to our questionnaires, we ended up not endorsing any Republican candidates.
Part of this outcome had to do with a half dozen GOP candidates who failed to respond to the questionnaires we sent out to all candidates. If you don't respond then you simply cannot be considered for an endorsement. It's that simple.
There were also a number of Republican candidates who, based on their responses, were considered 2020 election deniers who automatically disqualified themselves for consideration. We publicly announced in our July issue prior to the August primary election that we would not promote to office – any position of power – those who live in an alternate reality that includes a belief that the 2020 election was somehow stolen. Sorry, but a Michigan Senate report issued by Republicans found no evidence of a 'stolen' election, and 64 failed court challenges to the 2020 results was proof enough for us.
We noticed in recent weeks that a number of respected national publications (and locally the Detroit Free Press) have now adopted a similar position. We will say it again – our democracy as we have known it is at stake in this election. So if you buy into the 'stolen' election conspiracy theory, don't look to us for support.
Our endorsements for this election are the result of considerable debate on candidate positions on issues, some Zoom sessions, online research and our personal knowledge of candidates as the only local media outlet that regularly covers local government. In more complicated races, like the school board contests this year, we openly display our logic for arriving at our decisions so readers can follow our thought process.
The endorsements themselves are sometimes glib, cutting and frank assessments of those running for office. They are designed to make an impression on readers and prompt them to think. Some seeking office may feel uncomfortable with what we write but that has been and will remain our style, like it or not.
As to the general content of what we provide in Downtown Newsmagazine, we work hard to provide a legitimate news product. Over our 12-year history, readers have been given over 1,700 stories covering local municipal and school district decisions; over 300 longform stories dealing with major issues that could be facing our local communities; and over 700 personality profiles in our popular Faces features, plus special sections during the course of each year.
We do all of this for the benefit of our readers and are quite proud of our efforts which have been recognized far beyond the borders of the Birmingham-Bloomfield area. No hidden agenda; no loyalty to any one party. Just a desire to keep local residents informed and to weigh-in on the public agenda for the benefit of those now living here and those who will come behind us.