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Four years ago, we expanded The Press Democrat’s editorial board to include representation from you — our readers.

Our goal is to expand the diversity of experience and perspective that informs our editorials while stripping away some institutional anonymity by offering readers an inside look at how the newspaper reaches the positions that it takes.

The community representatives — six people have served for periods ranging from about six months to almost two years — are full voting members of the editorial board. They are invited to attend a weekly board meeting, propose topics and provide input for editorials and, if they’re so inspired, write their own commentaries for the opinion pages.

This is an election year, and one of the most important jobs of the editorial board is to study ballot measures and vet candidates — conducting interviews, attending campaign forums, researching records and debating among ourselves — to settle on our recommendations.

Our community board members are invited to be full participants in the process, including casting a vote on our recommendations.

We’re writing about this because we’re looking for people interested in serving as community editorial board members.

Michael D. Lopez, our current community board member, is a vice president of Vantreo Insurance Brokerage, a founding member of the Latino business group Los Cien of Sonoma County, the incoming president of the Elsie Allen High School Foundation and an amateur triathlete. He is our longest-serving representative, lending his knowledge and experience to the board for almost two years.

Past community members include Lisa G. Carreño of Forestville, who is regional director of 10,000 Degrees, which provides scholarship help for students; Donna Brasset-Shearer of Petaluma, a cultural anthropologist; Oscar A. Pardo, a Santa Rosa attorney; Paul Berlant of Windsor, a retired city manager; and Maureen Middlebrook of Santa Rosa, a public affairs consultant and a former member of the Golden Gate Bridge District board of directors.

The permanent editorial board members are Steve Falk, the chief executive of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat, and Jim Sweeney, the assistant editorial director of The Press Democrat. A third permanent position is presently vacant.

We’re looking to add one, and potentially, two community board members in the coming weeks.

The term isn’t fixed, although we would like people to stay on for a minimum of six months.

It should be a busy but rewarding experience with the editorial board planning to meet with candidates for statewide and local offices on the November ballot as well as supporters and opponents of ballot measures in the coming weeks. Other important subjects on our agenda include recovery from the October fires, housing and homelessness in Sonoma County, education and the economy.

Editorial board members don’t assign, report or edit stories, as the news and editorial departments operate independently of one another.

As always, we offer other options for presenting opinions in the paper. You can send letters or Close to Home columns to letters@pressdemocrat.com.

If you’re interested in being a community editorial board member, we would like to hear from you. Please send a cover letter and resume to jim.sweeney@pressdemocrat.com.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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