Voters: think for yourselves

A political endorsement is a person or organization's statement of support for a candidate. The candidate lists endorsements in campaign literature and voter's pamphlet, believing we will like or be impressed by the people who have given endorsements and will follow their lead in our voting.

Endorsements encourage people to trust endorsers and let them do our thinking for us as to which candidate for whom to vote. Are you aware of this next part?

In our local elections, endorsements are made before any of the candidates speak in public forums, circulate campaign literature, and before the voter's pamphlet is published. So how do these people who are making endorsements know what all the other candidates' specific positions and proposed solutions happen to be?

The answer, I'm sad to say, is that they don't. In my experience, while the occasional organization will investigate the various candidates before making an endorsement, the individual people who endorse candidates never talk to the other candidates before making their endorsements.

Is this an effective way to support true discourse and the exchange of thoughtful ideas, or does it support unthinking voting practices? Wouldn't our democracy be better served by investigating for ourselves, thinking for ourselves and voting according to our own conscience and values?

People who support their friends by endorsing them demonstrate their friendship and loyalty, but shouldn't elections be about more than that? Wouldn't our society be stronger if we were to objectively investigate all the candidates, vote for the one who tells us how they will vote once in office, and ignore all endorsements? What are we to conclude?

1. Right now you have no idea if an endorsement was made after an objective investigation of the other candidates.

2. Be suspicious of candidates who don't tell you whether their endorsers made an objective investigation.

3. If you vote for someone because of an endorsement, you are letting somebody else do your thinking.

4. Have you listened carefully and know you have actually been told how your candidate will vote in office? If not, you have no idea what they will do.

5. The only safe and responsible thing to do is investigate for yourself, think for yourself, and vote for the candidate whose positions and proposed solutions most closely join your own conscience and values.

Bruce Harrell


B&Bs didn't didn't start rental flap

I'm writing to clarify several misconceptions contained in your Aug. 18 editorial on unlicensed vacation home rentals in Ashland.

First and foremost, Ashland's Bed and Breakfast Network did not initiate the city's effort this year to crack down on these operations, which include illegal rentals in R-1 residential zones where short-term rentals of any sort are not currently allowed. The first we knew about the city's concern came in the presentation of Community Development Director Bill Molnar before the city Citizens Budget Committee last spring.

Molnar testified that as a part of the city's review of rental properties some violations of current law had been discovered. Later city officials said that one person who went through proper procedures to obtain a city permit to open a vacation home rental found substantial competition in this sector of the lodging industry from unlicensed operators. This person compiled a list of illegal, unlicensed operators and presented it to the city.

Second, the Bed and Breakfast Network, in a statement provided to the council before its study session earlier in the month, noted that we are not opposed to a review of city regulations on the lodging industry. Our major concerns, however, are that:

1. City neighborhoods should be protected.

2. Visitors to our city should have first-class lodging experiences.

3. City lodging taxes should be assessed equally on all short-term lodging.

4. City laws should treat all segments of the lodging industry fairly.

At present, many of these unlicensed vacation homes do not pay the city's 9 percent lodging tax, do not pay commercial utility rates, do not have commercial insurance to cover their guests and are not subject to city and county fire and health inspections. In addition to operating without city licenses and conditional use permits, it's been alleged that some of these homeowners have been asking renters to sign fraudulent rental documents.

As the city proceeds with review of its short-term rental occupancy law, we hope this will not be as one-sided as your editorial.

David Runkel, president

Ashland's Bed and BreakfastNetwork

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