“The Independent Herald will not endorse candidates for political office, but will make every attempt to keep our readers aware of who those candidates are and the office they are seeking. There will be a clear distinction between paid political advertisements and news reports of a candidate’s decision to seek office.”

Those words appeared in an article introducing the Independent Herald in the newspaper’s very first edition — June 17, 1976. It is a principle that has guided us for nearly 40 years since.

Newspapers have long endorsed candidates for political office on their editorial pages — dating back to 1860, when the New York Times endorsed Abraham Lincoln, Republican, for president. For nearly as long, there has been debate over whether the practice is a good idea of a bad one.

The practice of endorsing candidates is one that is generally in decline. The Wall Street Journal, for example, last endorsed a presidential candidate when Herbert Hoover was seeking the White House. In America’s most recent presidential election, there were 17 national newspapers that did not endorse candidates.

Still, there are far more papers that endorse candidates than there are that do not, and each newspaper regularly weighs the pros and cons of doing so.

As for the Independent Herald, we have not endorsed a political candidate in 38 years. We have occasionally endorsed political positions — editorializing in favor of a new tax to help save the Oneida Special School District in 1990 and supporting a wheel tax as a fair means of helping to retire school debt in 2012 — but never a candidate.

Frankly, we feel the issue of who to vote for is an issue that should be decided by the voter. It isn’t the job of an effective newspaper to lecture, but to inform. Our job is to provide information on who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues, not tell you which of them you should consider when you cast your ballot.

We have faith in our readers — faith that they can make up their own minds which candidate is best qualified for the office.