Now that not only Primary Election Day but also Labor Day has come and gone, it's time in Arizona for the fall campaign season to begin.
If it's an election in between presidential cycles, then most statewide and federal offices will be up for grabs -- only U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl gets a bye this time. There will also be a slew of statewide ballot issues.
This region has a particular interest in the First Congressional District, where both candidates are from Flagstaff: U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger Paul Gosar, a local dentist. Neither candidate put in much face time in Flagstaff during the primary season, so we hope they schedule at least one debate here or, failing that, separate open forums.
In Coconino County, some races were already decided in uncontested primaries -- the new justice of the peace for the Flagstaff district is Howard Grodman and the new state senator from Legislative District 2 is Democrat Jack Jackson Jr. State Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, faces only token opposition from a Libertarian, but in LD1, which includes the Flagstaff "suburbs" and Williams, both the Senate and House races are contested.
For superior court, two judgeships are being contested -- a rarity in this jurisdiction. In one race, it's Democrat Elaine Fridlund-Horne vs. independent Richard Vihel, while in the other Democrat Cathleen Brown-Nichols faces Republican Jacqueline Hatch.
The Flagstaff Unified School District is a particularly spirited affair this year, with five candidates for two seats on the governing board: Dolores Biggerstaff, B. Matthew Fleece, Rick Krug, Michael Seby and Miguel Vasquez. Unlike the city council, school board members by state law can receive no salary, so we are grateful that so many candidates have stepped forward this year.
Also on the Flagstaff city ballot only will be four bond issues for public infrastructure totaling more than $80 million.
Although the general election will be held in polling places, many voters have requested early ballots, so the Daily Sun will be looking to wrap up most of its substantive coverage by mid-October. In some races, we'll be sending out a list of questions and an issues checklist to the candidates -- we hope readers will encourage candidates to complete and return them.
As in past campaigns, our main focus of coverage will be on the candidates -- who they are and what are their values -- as well as where they stand on the issues. A third leg of any coverage is how the candidates conduct their campaigns, so we'll be looking at who's bankrolling their campaigns and the credibility of their ads. We'll be subjecting the latter to tests of accuracy and fairness -- what relevant facts are left out as well as put into an ad? We urge readers to forward to us any campaign materials -- including recorded robocalls -- they receive.
One aim of such coverage is to educate voters to help them cast informed votes. But the news media can't do it alone. We urge readers to visit candidate websites, attend public meetings featuring candidates and talk to your neighbors and colleagues at work. Keep the conversation civil, but keep it going all the way through Nov. 2. It's our government, so let's hold it accountable through the ballot box.