Editor’s note about Princeton Board of Education candidate profiles
Thank you to all of the readers who submitted questions for our Princeton school board candidate profiles. We received questions from more than 100 residents. In many cases, people asked a variation of the same question and we combined their questions. We were able to incorporate almost every question into the candidate Q&A. The only questions we excluded were obscure questions, questions about a very narrow issue, and questions that were actually statements masking as questions. We hope the Q&As are informative and help our readers made decisions as they prepare to vote in the general election. Clearly from the volume of submissions received, Princeton residents care about our schools and the public school district’s impacts on residents.
A candidate for the Princeton Board of Education has taken issue with the editing of her school board profile on social media and has claimed favoritism, so I wanted to set the record straight regarding how profiles were handled.
All candidates received an email with a link to the Q&A form at the same time and were given the same deadline in that email, as well as information about advertising so that everyone had the same information and received it at the same time.
Five candidates were given a grace period of a day to finish because they either didn’t receive the email or misread it regarding the deadline.
One candidate emailed me asking if I would be editing answers and asking if there was a word limit. I then wrote an email to all the candidates informing them of the question. I said answers should be 200 words or less and that I reserved the right to edit answers that were longer.
In three cases, I cut the length of answers because they went way over the word limit. In one case, I had to cut a few answers submitted by a candidate substantially. I did not run a word count for every answer for every candidate because that would have meant doing a word count on 160 responses. I visually sized up whether the answers generally were within the guidelines, in some cases counting lines. In a few cases, I fixed spelling errors or changed the way a word was hyphenated to match our style guide. In one case I asked a candidate for clarification because a word was jumbled. In another case, a candidate had left an answer blank. The person submitted responses well before the deadline and I asked if the person had a response to the question, but the candidate submitted an answer after I had already posted the candidate profiles.
One candidate included content linking to her campaign website and other information. As I wrote to her in an email, nowhere had I said links would be allowed. It is also not the role of the candidate Q&A to promote a candidate’s campaign page or other materials. I eliminated all links, and thus had to change the punctuation in those sentences and do light editing to make up for the missing words introducing links. My editing did not change the meaning of responses. I also added an editor’s note to the bottom of the candidate’s profile indicating the candidate took issue with the removal of links.
When the profiles were about to be posted, I sent an email to all the candidates saying I had photos from the archives I could use for many of them, but that candidates were welcome to submit fresh photos. In two cases I went to candidates’ social media pages to get photos because I did not have a photo for them in the archives and they had not submitted one to me. I used all the photos submitted by candidates that I received via email.
Finally, one candidate wanted to change an answer a day or two after the profiles were posted. I did not allow this but offered the candidate an opportunity to add a note with a change or correction at the end of the profile. The candidate did not respond.
Thank you again for submitting questions for the candidates and reading the profiles. If you have any story ideas, questions, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. And don’t forget to vote in the Nov. 3. election.
Thank you for clarifying. I was surprised that you would edit a candidates responses. I know it is difficult to answer questions with limited wording but that is common. When I ran for Council this year, we were asked by several publications to give our responses and we had to do so with limited wordcount. So we did as asked. We need leaders who know how to follow instruction and communicate clearly. All of this is part of transparency.
Edits that are de-minimus are fine. Personally, I do not like to have edits made to my submissions and if I follow the rules do not expect them.
Why would a BoE candidate not follow the simple rules provided? Was it carelessness, a time issue, or a disregard for instruction and the Editor’s authority?
All the candidates are qualified to run, they seem bright, and engaged. When you have so many candidates to pick from this type of Q&A provides helpful insight.
From the Editor’s post, the endeavor took time and those that didn’t follow the instructions created more work. Again maybe it’s an oversight or maybe it’s an important insight?
Thank you for providing this service. It was very helpful in making my decision.
I also want to echo Walker’s comment. I appreciate the transparency and the information will allow the residents to make a better, informed decision.
Thank you for doing this. However, you should not allow anonymous or unmoderated/un-factchecked comments to be left on the candidates’ profile pages… It invites unaccountable trolling and smears. Simply turn off comments for those pages and let the candidates speak for themselves.
I support anonymous comments. Like all comments, they should be truthful and respectful. Our country was founded on anonymous writings (e.g. the Federalist papers) and it serves a point. Princeton is a small town and there is a very close working relationship between those in power. It is difficult to voice an opinion contrary to the ones held by those in power without there being consequences. If there is a problem with a particular comment, one should let the editor know or point out the problem with the comment. I think PP has done a very good job of moderating comments and that the dialogue here has been beneficial to the community overall.
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