By Norb Garrett
We’ve received some criticism and questions in the past few days about this week’s issue featuring a story about San Clemente City Council candidate Gene James, and given the fact that elections are next week, I wanted to address some of those questions.
First and foremost, the SC Times has no political affiliation and has never endorsed a political candidate. Our goal is to inform the community in a fair, unbiased and balanced way so that our readers can make independent, informed decisions. Our news reporting does not have an agenda. Our goal is simply to inform our community so that it can be engaged, which only makes our town a better place to live.
We do a thorough job with pre-election coverage and information sharing. Each and every candidate has been included in pre-election articles sharing their views on issues and items important to them. For weeks we’ve gathered and reported this information for the benefit of both the readers and the candidates.
It’s also important to note that each and every candidate also understands that a run for public office means that his or her past and present will be open for analysis and interpretation. In the past weeks, the SC Times has reported on numerous allegations about some of the candidate’s actions, including issues facing Jackson Hinkle and Dee Coleman. We went directly to each candidate to get their reactions to those situations and reported those responses in kind. As a reader you can determine what you think about those allegations and responses.
The story this week about old allegations against Gene James is no different. When we learned of those allegations, we investigated the root of them and then, once the information had been gathered, sought out Mr. James for his direct responses to each allegation—which he provided.
Some supporters of Mr. James have taken to social media and others have come directly to us to express concerns that this is a “hit piece” and are part of a conspiracy. This is unfortunate and patently untrue. Admittedly the timing is unfortunate, but it certainly is not deliberate. The story took time to research as many of the allegations are quite old, but rather than have these rumors and allegations spin out of control in the uncontrolled social media world, the SC Times did its job to bring forward the allegations then have Mr. James directly respond to them.
As a reader of the SC Times, you now know what the allegations were and what Mr. James said about them. Unfortunate timing aside, this is what our responsibility to this community entails.
I stand 100% behind our editor, Shawn Raymundo, and his reporting. He has been tasked with researching and reporting on a number of allegations in recent weeks about numerous candidates and has done so in a fair and balanced way. As journalists, like public officials, we understand that our reporting and efforts are open for public scrutiny, and we accept that.
I wish all of the city council candidates good luck on election day and thank each and every one of them for coming forward to offer their services to our community.