Letter to the Editor: Student media fails to give city elections adequate coverage

I am writing to express my disappointment in the Index coverage of the recent municipal election on April 5. If a Kirksville resident relied on the Index, the first indication that there even was an election would have been last week’s superficial report on the two winning candidates. In past years, our newspaper has done an excellent job of informing the community about all the candidates and what each stands for. There is always a candidates’ forum two weeks before the election, in which each candidate gives a prepared statement and then answers questions from the press. The forum was not mentioned in the Index this year. In the past, Index reporters have interviewed candidates to pose questions relevant to students. Not this year.

Is it important for students to know about the candidates for Kirksville city council? Decisions made on city council affect students’ daily lives in ways that they may not be aware of without responsible coverage in student media. For instance, three years ago a fierce battle was fought in this town to pass a human rights ordinance that made discrimination in housing and workplace on grounds of sexual orientation illegal. This improves the lives of all LGBT students who rent apartments or take jobs in town, not to mention making Kirksville a more enlightened place to live for us all. How many current students were aware that one of the city councilman who was up for re-election for a second term this year was the person who refused to let this issue die back in 2013 after it failed on the first vote? Perhaps if they had known, a few more might have turned out to vote. Very few knew and few voted. Glen Moritz lost his seat by 43 votes (one percent of the vote). In light of full disclosure, this loss hits close to home, as Glen is my husband, so I am well aware of how hard he fought for equal rights in Kirksville.

The bigger picture, however, is not a personal one; it is an issue of civic awareness. We need to have a voice in selecting those who will govern, not just nationally, but locally. And to have a voice, we need a press that investigates and informs. The Index did not just fall down on the job for the students, but for the whole Kirksville community. Many local residents who cannot afford the high Kirksville Daily Express subscription rates rely for their news on picking up a free copy of the Index at Hy-Vee and other places around town. Index reporters: you have a civic role. You are more important than you seem to realize!