Reader: The recent viewpoint article in The Bakersfield Californian regarding the 3rd District supervisor's race favored two candidates over the third. In my opinion, this was unprofessional. The selection of candidates should be left to voters and not to the view of the journalist/journalists who write the story. I know all three candidates who are good people. Although I found the viewpoint article was unfair in how written. The playing ground should be fair and equal to each candidate, but this article was not.
— J.R. Rodriguez
Peterson: J.R., you've given me the opportunity to explain the difference between a news story about a political race and an editorial in the Opinion section that is an endorsement representing the viewpoint of the editorial board. Two very different things!
Business Editor John Cox wrote the news story ("Third District supervisors race offers contrasting options," May 14) presenting the three candidates — Jeff Flores, Louis Gill and Brian Smith — for Kern County's 3rd District supervisor seat. Each candidate had (and accepted) an opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire that I sent out, and to be interviewed for the story. That news story did not offer an opinion on the candidates.
That's very different from an endorsement ("Our View: Kern County races can be decided in June primary," May 22), which is the opinion of the editorial board and appears in the Opinion section of the newspaper.
The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit media institute, published "Why do newspapers still make political endorsements?" on Oct. 28, 2020. Senior Media Writer Tom Jones posed this question: Why do newspapers endorse or recommend candidates?
He wrote that Scott Gillespie of The Star Tribune answered: “It’s a tradition that dates back, in our case, more than 150 years. If a newspaper chooses to have an editorial voice representing the institution, it should take its leadership role seriously. We publish more than 400 editorials from our Editorial Board. It would be an abdication of that leadership role to sit out elections. We also want to be widely read and be relevant, and our endorsements generate readership and spark healthy debate — on our website and no doubt at kitchen and dining room tables.”
Don't necessarily agree with The Californian's endorsements? There are plenty of other endorsements out there to review: Longtime political adviser Cathy Abernathy issued her ballot recommendations this week, noting she has offered "20 years of ballot recommendations." The Greater Bakersfield Chamber Political Action Committee made endorsements in key local and statewide races. All kinds of political action committees and individuals make endorsements. Candidates list their endorsements on websites and mailers stuffed in your mailbox. In my opinion, good endorsements explain why you should vote a particular way. Read a variety, think about them and then make your choice.
Point being The Californian's endorsements — in the Opinion section — are an important tool to help you with your vote, but the beauty of our elections system is we all get to speak up. Do that this Tuesday.
Reader: Compassionate and passionate Community Voices contribution ("CARE Court plan is a step in the right direction," May 10) from our mayor, Karen Goh. This on the heels of another great Community Voices from Brik McDill ("Address wider direct, indirect public health, safety concerns," May 9), on the history of our community, state and national problems of mental illness, drug addiction and homelessness.
It's good to know that something seriously helpful may be on the way to the rescue. Helping our homeless, drug-addicted and mentally ill populations will be one small step for humankind and one giant leap for compassion. This has been going on for either most or all of our lives. Maybe, we can finally get serious about it.
— John O'Connell
Peterson: I agree — both Mayor Goh and McDill tackled important topics regarding homelessness and mental illness. Look for a story in Monday's newspaper about a new effort at the M Street Navigation Center.
Reader: Congratulations on all your trophy wins! ("3-peat! Californian wins top honor in California Journalism Awards for third year in a row," June 1.) I remember when the L.A. Lakers won their third championship in a row. Pat Riley was their coach and he trademarked “Three Peat.” I have never seen nor heard it used after that story ran. (He reportedly also trademarked ”Re-peat”). I’m not sure about that explanation point, but you can probably use it because you are just telling the truth. Bakersfield Life magazine won honors in the open competition? They are punching above their weight and are definitely playing at the varsity level. Alex Horvath’s photo entry is good enough to stop and take it in for several minutes. On the lower right, I had to get up my lighted magnifying glass to read who wrote what. Congrats to the rest of your team that made it to the finals. Nothing for Robert Price? Hmmm.
— Matthew Clinton Jett
Peterson: Thanks for the kind words. As noted in the story, Robert Price picked up a win: Second place for a set of columns, "She came so close and then fentanyl" and "Shawn Jordan, your fifth-grade teacher is calling."