Election Day is just a bit more than six weeks away, and understandably, the majority of the focus for the Nov. 3 vote is on the presidential race.
For community newsrooms like The Daily Item and The Danville News, though, attention to local and state races and issues is actually a bigger priority. Winners in those races can have a more direct impact on the people who live and work here.
Helping voters become better informed about area candidates remains a pivotal role for news organizations. While there is much criticism about the media and much suspicion about bias, the vast majority of Americans (84%) said in a recent Knight Foundation study, that, in general, the news media is “critical” (49%) or “very important” (35%) to democracy.
We’ve been reporting most of the year on state election issues, starting with the lead-up to and the aftermath of the June primary and the burgeoning issue of mail-in voting
We’ve reported at length on issues with mail-in voting. Our state reporter, John Finnerty, will continue to cover that issue on an almost daily basis. He is also part of the team working on a major company-wide project on mail-in voting for the second weekend of October.
In addition, this week we began our interviews with candidates for state elected office. This is an off-year for local municipal elections, but there’s plenty to consider on the state level.
Republican incumbent state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), whose district includes Union County and who is running against Democratic challenger Jackie Baker, sat down with us on Wednesday afternoon. That interview is available on video at dailyitem.com.
In the coming weeks, we plan to conduct interviews with candidates in multiple other state races. In each case, we’ll publish stories highlighting those interviews and post videos of them, so you can watch when you have time.
The additional races on which we will focus include:
— Pennsylvania Attorney General: Heather Heidelbaugh (R) vs. incumbent Josh Shapiro (D).
— Pennsylvania Auditor General: Timothy DeFoor (R) vs. Nina Ahmad (D). Democratic incumbent Eugene DePasquale, who could not run again because of term limits, is instead running for Congress in the state’s 10th District.
— State Senate District 27 (All of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties and part of Luzerne): Incumbent John Gordner (R) vs. Michelle Siegel (D).
— State House District 85 (Most of Union and Snyder counties) Incumbent David Rowe (R) vs. Katie Evans (D).
Two other area state house representatives, Republicans Kurt Masser (District 107 — parts of Northumberland and Columbia counties and all of Montour County) and Lynda Culver (District 108 — much of Northumberland County, part of Snyder County) are unopposed.
One additional House race of some interest is in the 84th District, which includes the Union County townships of Gregg and White Deer as well as Lycoming County. Republican Garth Everett, the incumbent in the 84th District, is retiring after seven terms. Democrat Amanda Waldman and Republican Joe Hamm are running to replace him.
There are also two Congressional races we’ll be watching: The District 9 race between Republican incumbent Dan Meuser and Democratic challenger Gary Wegman; and the District 12 race between Republican incumbent Fred Keller, Democrat Lee Griffin and Libertarian challenger Elizabeth Terwilliger.
We want to help you get to know and hear from the candidates. If you have questions you’d like us to be sure to ask these state candidates, please send them in an email to me at email@example.com.