The Urbanist has a core commitment to education, fairness, and transparency in our endorsement process. To those ends, we recently shared with our readers a comprehensive overview of our endorsement process and requirements.
As part of this process, The Urbanist requires that candidates complete a standardized questionnaire to be eligible for consideration, which is then published for our readers. We use this required questionnaire and an optional in-person interview to determine our endorsements.
This year, our questionnaire contained a mix of short answer and yes/no questions, offering candidates the chance to both outline their vision and bring clarity to their positions on important issues. We believe that yes/no questions serve this end and mirror the tough votes that our elected officials are called to make.
Without consulting The Urbanist, Jenny Durkan’s campaign recently publicly released a copy of her questionnaire and a statement explaining why she felt compelled to do so.
We would like to take a moment to clarify the situation.
Questionnaires were due from all candidates on Tuesday, June 6th. We received answers from Ms. Durkan’s campaign at 11:30 PM that evening. Rather than completing the standard form, the campaign provided answers via a PDF and answered the yes/no questions with long-form answers. A “yes” or “no” answer was not discernible in several of her responses. No request for accommodation was made by the campaign prior to the receipt of these answers.
We informed the campaign the next morning that the answers did not meet our requirements, and offered a one-day extension to modify her responses. The campaign declined the offer. Out of fairness to the other candidates who were able to complete the questionnaire on-time and as required, we informed Ms. Durkan that we were regretfully unable to consider her for endorsement.
Each campaign cycle, we evaluate our process for improvements to create a better process for candidates, for our volunteers, and most importantly for our readers. We always welcome feedback about our endorsement process, and we plan to incorporate lessons from this experience into our process moving forward.
The Urbanist does not publish questionnaires until all in-person interviews are complete, so that candidates cannot unfairly review the answers of fellow candidates. As of this writing, The Urbanist has conducted some mayoral candidate interviews, while others are still remaining. We contacted Ms. Durkan’s campaign to explain this and to request a removal of the responses until after our in-person interviews are complete. This would avoid giving some of her challengers an unfair advantage over others. We are disappointed that, as of this writing, she has not done so.
We will continue to ask candidates tough questions and hold them to fair, consistent standards. We look forward to releasing our endorsements in the coming weeks.
Photo courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil on Flickr