Endorsing a candidate - or not endorsing someone - is a difficult task. That's certainly been true this year for the editorial board members of the East Oregonian.

As we said when we started the process nearly a month ago, our endorsements are not meant to tell you how to vote. They are meant to inform you on the candidates and to give you our opinion on the candidate we believe will best serve the cities and counties of Eastern Oregon, our state and our nation.

Most of the time, there are only subtle differences between candidates. In those cases, our endorsement may hinge on experience or the lack of knowledge about an important issue.

Some of the time, there are major differences between candidates and our decision is more clear cut. It's also easy to pick when a candidate runs for an office on a single issue or simply does not understand the position he or she seeks.

The selection is made by the editorial board, which includes Publisher and Editor George Murdock, Associate Publisher Kathryn Brown, Managing Editor Skip Nichols, Deputy Managing Editor Dave Sager and General Manager Wendy DalPez.

Candidates are invited to meet with the editorial board where a series of questions are asked. If possible, the board likes to meet with all candidates for a race at the same time. That allows for some give and take between candidates.

Yet, because of busy schedules, that's often not possible. In those cases we will meet individual candidates at a convenient time or talk with them on the phone.

Also, if possible, we include in our meetings a reporter whose coverage includes the elected position. That reporter, however, does not have a say in our endorsement process.

After talking to the candidates, each editorial board member will express his or her opinion about the candidate they feel should be endorsed. (If an editorial board member is not available for a meeting with the candidate, they either don't participate in the selection process or they are briefed by the board members who did talk to the candidates.)

Often there are different opinions from our editorial board members. We debate until there is general consensus.

Then a board member will write the endorsement.

To the candidates, we know it's certainly not easy putting yourself out for public scrutiny. Regardless of whether you win or lose, we appreciate your cooperation and your commitment of service.

Thank you and may the best candidate win.

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