Kansas City Star endorsements are no secret — this is how we do it

During the next several days, The Kansas City Star editorial board will make endorsements in local and state races in Kansas and Missouri and will offer recommendations for a long list of ballot questions.

In the past, this was an opaque exercise. Unsigned endorsement editorials appeared without explanation, and we hoped you would heed our advice.

This year, the editorial board wants to bring transparency to our endorsements for the November elections by explaining our process and by publishing more videos and excerpts from our interviews with the candidates. From the Kansas governor’s race and the battle for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri down to a local library levy, we’ll show our work and provide more details about the reporting behind our recommendations.

Here are answers to a few questions about The Star’s endorsements:

Who decides the endorsements?

Members of The Kansas City Star editorial board interview political candidates, as well as advocates and opponents of ballot measures. The editorial board is comprised of experienced opinion journalists and is separate from The Star’s newsroom.

Members of The Star editorial board are: Star publisher Tony Berg, Colleen McCain Nelson, Derek Donovan, Dave Helling, Melinda Henneberger, Steve Kraske and Toriano Porter.

What does the endorsement process entail?

The Star editorial board meets with political candidates from Kansas and Missouri. The interviews are largely focused on public policy, and each lasts about an hour. Board members do additional reporting and research to learn as much as possible about the candidates.

The seven-member editorial board then convenes to discuss the candidates in each race. Board members seek to reach a consensus on the endorsements, but not every decision is unanimous.

What if a candidate declines to interview with the editorial board?

Some candidates turn down The Star’s invitation to meet with members of the editorial board. Because we haven’t interviewed them, we will not endorse those candidates. And we will disclose that information to our readers.

The editorial board aims to make informed recommendations to voters. We can’t feel confident in making an endorsement when a candidate is unwilling or unable to answer our questions.

Is the editorial board partisan?

No. In making endorsements, members of the editorial board consider which candidates are well prepared to represent their constituents — not whether they agree with us or belong to a particular political party. We evaluate candidates’ relevant experience, their readiness for office, their depth of knowledge of key issues and their understanding of public policy. We’re seeking candidates who are thoughtful and who offer more than just party-line talking points.

The editorial board will endorse both Republicans and Democrats. We make recommendations about who the best-qualified candidates for these jobs are.

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Why are endorsements unsigned?

Endorsements reflect the collective views of The Star’s editorial board — not just the opinion of one writer. Board members all discuss and contribute ideas to each endorsement editorial.

How can readers learn more about the candidates’ interviews with the editorial board?

We’ll publish video clips from many of our candidate meetings on The Star’s website. In some top-of-the-ballot races, we’ll also publish excerpts from our interviews so that readers can evaluate the candidates’ answers for themselves.

Have a question or a comment about The Star’s endorsements? Email editorial page editor Colleen McCain Nelson at cnelson@kcstar.com.