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It’s election time in Sedona again, but this time residents aren’t voting for people, they’re voting for a concept.

The State Route 89A referendum election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 8, and aims to end the battle over the West Sedona roadway once and for all.

While tempers originally flared over streetlights and the Arizona Department of Transportation’s plan to install them to increase nighttime safety, the community rumble shifted to whether the city should take ownership of the roadway. Sedona City Council said yes, a group of residents said no, and now Sedona goes to the polls to decide if taking over the roadway is in the best interests of the city.

When elections for council, Sedona Fire District Governing Board and Sedona-Oak Creek School District come around, it’s easy to stick to our election policy, which states letters to the editor endorsing candidates will not be published.

Instead, one of our reporters writes a profile on each candidate, and candidates are given the opportunity to submit an essay to be printed in our newspaper. This process allows each candidate to share his or her background, expertise and platform without bombarding our letters to the editor section.

While local elections are important and residents should participate, not everyone is as passionate about politics, and some readers don’t want to see letter after letter of endorsement. There is other news in the community, and we try to ensure election season doesn’t wipe that out.

We do publish letters about issues related to the election, however, which muddies our policy when it comes to the State Route 89 referendum. The entire election is based on a single issue and there are only two ways to vote.

We understand this is an important issue for Sedona residents, and it could shape the future of the city economically and aesthetically. So rather than simply say no more letters, we’re going to allow some of them to be printed, but not all.

Instead of printing letters from the same people we’ve heard from repeatedly during the debate, we want to publish the thoughts and ideas of those who don’t make it onto Page 4A very often and only write in when they feel truly moved to do so.

We’re also not going to print the same opinion multiple times with a different name written at the bottom. We want to read new perspectives and stories about why people stand on one side of the issue of the other.

We will also strive to present a balance of letters both pro and con. However, this is beyond our control. Past experience tells us one side or the other of nearly every controversy often is more organized and privy to public relations.

Until Nov. 8 comes, we’ll do our best to allow readers to voice their opinions while not ignoring those unrelated to this hot-button issue.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

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