Endorsement letter deadline is approaching

With primary elections less than two weeks away, voters who wish to voice support for their chosen candidates are running out of time.

Letters to the editor endorsing any candidate for public office who will appear on the May 8 primary ballot are due by 5 p.m. Friday, May 4. The Wilson Times will publish political letters as it receives them, with the final batch printed on Monday, May 7. No endorsement letters will be published on Election Day.

While The Wilson Times does not endorse candidates, our opinion page is open to the public as a community forum for the free exchange of ideas. We welcome letters that explain why a reader believes his or her favored candidate deserves support in the voting booth.

Letters should be 350 words or fewer and must include the writer’s name, hometown and a daytime phone number for verification purposes. To ensure fairness, candidate endorsements will not be considered for guest columns — longer opinion pieces that appear with the writer’s portrait. All political letters will be held to the letter length limit.

On that subject, we’ve received some pointed criticism this week regarding a couple hot-button issues that have claimed a large share of space in the paper. To reassure our loyal readers and educate those who may be new to the Times, we’ll offer a brief primer on our opinion and commentary pages by answering frequently asked questions.

Does an abundance of letters supporting a particular cause or candidate show favoritism?

No; letters to the editor and guest columns only reflect the views of their writers. The Wilson Times does not sponsor or endorse the contents of any signed opinion piece. We publish all original submissions we receive so long as they are not vulgar or defamatory and do not contain unverifiable first-person factual claims, such as consumer complaints, that could give rise to potential legal liability.

Why are both sides of an issue sometimes not represented equally?

The Times does not solicit letters or guest columns from individual writers. We publish the content our readers choose to share with us. If there is an imbalance, you have the opportunity to help correct it by writing a letter of your own and contributing to the conversation.

What’s the difference between a column, a letter and an editorial?

The main differences are length and frequency. Columns are not subject to the 350-word length limit for letters to the editor, and they generally appear on the same day each week. The Times publishes syndicated columns from across the political spectrum in addition to local columns. Community columnists are not paid and the views they express are theirs alone, not those of The Wilson Times.

Editorials appear in the left-hand column of the opinion page with an “In Our Opinion” label and are the only place in the newspaper that the Times offers an institutional viewpoint. Guest editorials published in other papers also appear in this space. They are selected for variety and their positions are not endorsed by the Times.

Who can write a guest column in the Times?

Local residents who wish to weigh in on a topic of public interest and have subject matter expertise, relevant occupational and academic credentials or firsthand experience are welcome to submit guest columns for consideration. Guest columns should be freestanding narratives and cannot include responses to letters to the editor, columns or stories; letters are the appropriate venue for offering rebuttals.

Why do you print so many opinion pieces I disagree with?

Because your neighbors, co-workers and fellow community members took the time to write and share them. The Wilson Times believes strongly in the values of free speech and open debate. The remedy for speech you find disagreeable is more speech, not suppression or disengagement. While we don’t endorse any individual letter or column, we proudly stand behind everyone’s right to speak out — and that includes yours.

Want to weigh in? Share your letters of 350 words or fewer by emailing them to [email protected], mailing them to PO Box 2447, Wilson, NC 27894 or dropping them off at our front desk during regular business hours.

Sheriff Candidate Forum

The Wilson Times will host a forum for Wilson County sheriff candidates from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, at Wilson Community College’s DelMastro Auditorium. Admission is free and seating is first-come, first-served. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions.