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Doug's Diggings: Letters to the editor and elections

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opinion River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

It looks like an exciting year of elections -- in fact, the excitement already started with last week's primary.

With School Board President Barb Van Loenen finishing dead last in the seven-person primary, she will not be on the April 4 ballot. The long and short of it means that Van Loenen will be off the board after the upcoming election. There were many people shocked by the outcome. According to those who watch the board proceeding closely, Van Loenen was a strong board member who came to the group with a strong business background.

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Obviously there will be at least one new board member -- maybe more. Incumbent Brian Bell finished sixth and Tom Holland third in the seven-person field. Three candidates will be elected in April. Obviously the incumbents did not perform well in the primary. That said, as elections go, the voter turnout for February primaries generally represents a small number of people -- in this case about 8.6 percent.

What it all means is that there will be a very spirited school board election this spring. On top of that there will be a high-profile referendum as the school district seeks to purchase the old dog track. Throw in a presidential preference race, county board elections and all signs point to a large voter turnout for the April 3 election.

I bring this up because it is probably a good time to outline some guidelines for letters to the editor. The number of letters has already increased in recent weeks and as we approach the April 3 primary the numbers will continue to grow.

We generally run as many local letters as possible. If you don't want your letter edited, remember to keep it 400 words or less. There are no exceptions to this rule. The fact is, sometimes shorter letters are read more than longer letters -- longer is not necessarily better!

Remember to include your name, address and telephone number. They are necessary in the event we either have to verify a writer, or have questions of a writer. Only the name and town are printed. Along the same line, we do not run unsigned letters. Sometimes we get some interesting letters, but they are signed by some acronym like "concerned citizen" or "concerned parent." These letters will be discarded by our staff.

Another note, "thank you's" are not considered letters to the editor -- they are paid advertising.

Try to get us your letter in a timely fashion. Our deadline is generally about 3 p.m. Monday, but we like them sooner if possible. Sometimes late arrivals will be published, but only if there is a need to fill space; for the most part late letters are pushed into the next week.

Local writers (Hudson area) will get preference in the upcoming weeks. Letters from nearby communities will get consideration only if there is room in the newspaper for those opinions. If there are too many local letters, we will attempt to select representative letters for publication and original letters will get highest consideration (as opposed to mass mailing letters for or against a particular candidate -- you'd be surprised how similar many letter are sometimes).

Anyway, we love receiving letters and obviously readers enjoy them. We just want you to know some of the logic used in publishing letters.

Keep in mind that only letters in support of candidates or issues will be published in the final paper before any election.

Good luck -- it looks like a banner year for letters! After the April 3 election, there will be a governor recall election sometime this summer and it looks like there will be a primary associated with the recall to zero in on a Democratic opponent. Then we'll probably see some sort of primary in September as we zero in on the presidential election in November. It's going to be quite a year for political enthusiasts!

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