PD Editorial: Our editorial goals for the year

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You can find weather forecasts, sports scores, investigative reports and current events from Sonoma County and around the globe in the pages of The Press Democrat.

In this space, the editorial board shares our views and opinions.

Many of our editorials react to the news — a City Hall debate, the controversy du jour in Washington, last week’s gruesome killings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But that isn’t our only role. We consider it a responsibility to identify and explore issues of importance to local residents and to advocate for public policies and services that will benefit Sonoma County and the North Bay.

To that end, we adopted five editorial goals for this year:

Disaster recovery and resiliency. Thousands of our neighbors are rebuilding their homes, and their lives, after the wildfires of 2017 and last month’s Russian River flood. These disasters exposed shortcomings in utility safety and insurance coverage as well as the ongoing need to harden our homes and businesses in this era of climate change.

Easing the housing crisis. Every city in Sonoma County and their elected officials must be held accountable for doing their fair share, not only to replace the 5,300 homes lost in the fires, but the widely accepted analysis says we need 30,000 additional homes to meet community needs, including ensuring that young people don’t have to leave the area to find affordable housing.

Promoting a strong local economy. We use the phrase “local matters” a lot because a community that uses local services and products and supports local businesses and charities is less susceptible to economic headwinds and more likely to work together on problems like traffic, housing and disaster recovery.

Government transparency. A strong democracy requires open government, and we are committed to advocating for unfettered public access to government records and decision-making. Without it, public confidence in our institutions will erode.

Civil civic dialogue. We’re all for spirited debates, but American politics is increasingly marked by personal attacks. We’re trying to watch our language, to focus on ideas over personalities and to keep ad hominem attacks off our pages. We’ll also call them out in the public arena.

By identifying goals, we intend to focus our attention and influence the agenda for our community and its elected leaders.

By making our goals public, we hope to set our own example of transparency. That allows you, our readers, to understand our priorities — and to help hold us accountable to them.

We will report back periodically on progress toward our goals.

Many of the same subjects will be addressed in news coverage. But we want to be clear: Press Democrat reporters and newsroom editors operate independently of the editorial board. They don’t write editorials nor are they obligated to reflect the editorial board’s views in their work.

The editorial board consists of Steve Falk, the chief executive officer of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat and four other local publications; Jim Sweeney, the editorial director; and two community members who serve on the board for about a year at time. The current community members are Kerry Rego, a high school and college teacher; and Ruthie Snyder, a retired downtown liaison for the city of Olympia, Washington.

As always, you’re invited to share your views, whether you agree with us or not. We want this space to be the place where civil civic dialogue begins.

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

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