Mary Helen and I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Garrett County Republican newspaper (Joe Hauger) asking him to please cover the local political campaigns. It was never published, which we found most irritating. The only reason we subscribe to the Republican is to get the local political news which we cannot get on TV or from the national press. And the question of who governs us is certainly important to all of us. Here is a verbatim transcript of our unpublished LTE:
To the Editor of the Garrett County Republican,
As Garrett Countians and Marylanders, we are upset at the lack of political news concerning Garrett County and local Maryland state candidates available to local citizens during this important political season. Whether you receive COMCAST/Infinity or DirecTV, your television news sources are limited to the local Pittsburgh stations, and even the national news stations (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox) carry Pennsylvania campaign ads. Where do we get news about the candidates and issues most important to us here in Garrett County?
We could subscribe to Baltimore or Cumberland newspapers for political news statewide – but where is the news about our Garrett County commissioner race between Judy Carbone and Larry Tichnell? Where is the news about the other locally-contested race for state delegate between Mike Dreisbach and Wendell Beitzel?
The only public resource for political news is you, our local newspaper. You have an obligation to inform your readers.
We encourage you to begin covering our local and state political campaigns in earnest, in depth, and every week. Cover the candidates’ biographies and positions. Interview each candidate and ask them in-depth questions about the issues. Write about them and invite public comment. Cover campaign events, both before they occur (to encourage citizens to attend) and afterward (to tell us what happened).
An informed electorate, as stated by statesmen since Thomas Jefferson, is our best protection against tyranny. And, as Jefferson also stated, a free press is critical. But to make this work, the free press must engage in the political process.
--Bob and Mary Helen Spear