Mandan News

Equal time matters

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Reasonable minds can differ
You have your opinions and I have mine. Since you aren’t writing this, you’ll just have to settle for mine and I’ll just have to wonder what you think about what I said here.

I’m not sure whether or not you know that there’s an election going on. Our first chance to vote will be June 10. This is a primary where we voters will finalize who gets to be on the statewide ballot in November, as well as choose who will sit our local commissions, whether or not to create a 1/2 cent sales tax to build a jail, and whether or not to approve the legislature’s desire to mess with the deadline for submitting signatures to get an issue on the ballot. I get to vote my ballot and you get to vote yours.

The campaign for November election has been underway since March when both the Republicans and Democrats endorsed their candidates for the various state and federal offices. And I think most folks aren’t paying much attention to it yet.

But when it comes to politics, I’m not like most folks because I’ve spent the last 30 years of my career in the political arena and just can’t help meddling in the game.

The art of campaigning for public office involves exposing the candidates to as many voters as possible. This involves such things as finding free ways to get media exposure and getting the candidates in front of groups, but having enough money to compete with the opponent’s media purchases has become the most important ingredient of campaigning. I struggle with someone buying a political office but that’s the way it is.

As I see it, the biggest problem we have in politics today is that we don’t know who bought what candidate, and that irks me. I don’t really care how much money a donor gives a candidate but I do think as a voter, I’m entitled to know who bought what candidate before I vote. This is called transparency, and I shudder when politicians are not willing to fully expose who bought them. This needs to change.

As well, I’m more than a bit disturbed that the concept of equal time has been ignored. I don’t know when things changed, but there was a time when a candidate was allowed equal media time when his/her opponent made political accusations. I liked that because it allowed me to compare candidates.

Both my loyal readers may recall that during my nine times as a candidate for local office, this paper made me quit writing this column, as they perceived my writings gave me too much of an advantage over my opponents. I actually agreed and suspended my writing from the time I was an announced candidate until after the elections.

Before I go on here, I want you to know that I personally know our present congressman, Kevin Cramer, and find him to be an honorable and affable man. Kevin’s is North Dakota’s representative in Congress and therefore represents all of us who live here. Kevin and I don’t agree when it comes to most of the issues facing us today, but reasonable minds can differ reasonably, and my point here is not to insult Kevin, rather I want to point out an advantage he has over his opponent that could be easily corrected.

Each Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. on KFYR radios ‘what’s on your mind’ show, the hosts provide Kevin a one-hour town hall. Even though I disagree with most of Kevin’s points, I’ve enjoyed hearing his side of things.

However, since the campaign for Kevin’s position is underway, it seems to me that KFYR should either stop Kevin’s town halls or allow Kevin’s opponent equal time … and the equal time solution would be better in that we would finally begin to hear both sides. I’d like to hear what George Sinner has to offer us as well as any other candidates for Congress, and I think it might even allow voters to actually make an educated choice on who we want to represent us.

I know that most of what we will hear during the campaign will be purchased by candidates, but I’d sure like to hear from them all, not just those who can afford media time. To do that, maybe we need to reinstitute the equal time rule.

Here’s hoping that you’re able to reasonably differ with those around you …