This time next week, the first meeting of the Payson Roundup editorial board will have taken place and the editorial published on the far left of this page will be written by a process of consensus.
Since announcing my desire for the Roundup to have an editorial board, I received several calls and letters from people questioning the decision.
"Why can't you have your own opinions?" they said.
I thought a lot about that questions, and here is my answer: The Roundup is not all about me. The Roundup is about Payson and the surrounding areas. It is a piece of this community and that is why I believe it is important to bring the community -- be it three people at a time -- into the newspaper.
As we put this concept in place, I spoke to several editors across the country who have hosted editorial boards at their newspapers.
They were candid about the challenges, but mostly they could not say enough about the positive changes it brought to the opinion page.
From those conversations, I built an editorial board concept -- stealing ideas from each editor.
The editorial board meets once a week for an hour. Each of us will bring ideas to the table after looking at what is in the news and top of mind. We will search for the things we believe deserve examination and commentary.
I will be facilitating the conversation in our meetings and writing the editorials that come out of our discussion and debate.
I received a large number of applications for the editorial board. Publisher Richard Haddad and I sifted through them and tried to choose a diverse mix of ages and backgrounds. I saved the letters from those not chosen for the inaugural board and plan to tap them in the future.
The first editorial board will consist of three community members -- Marilyn Decker, Timothy Ehrhardt and Robert Henley -- and two members of the Roundup staff -- Haddad and myself.
Decker was already known to us a regular writer of Letters to the Editor. She is a retired psychotherapist who spent her career as a teacher at a medical school in Iowa and as a mediator at the Family Center of the Conciliation Court in Pima County.
Henley was also known to us through his four years as a member of the Payson Town Council. He is no longer on the council, but is still involved in the area as a member of the Habitat for Humanity board of directors.
Ehrhardt is a 26-year-old real estate agent who lives in Collins Ranch. As he wrote in his letter of interest, "This area desperately needs the input of two groups of people: Young people and those who live in the outlying areas." He represents both those groups.
We believe these three people are engaged in the community and will each bring a different perspective to the table. They will serve in this volunteer position for four months, beginning July 12.
As this process unfolds, I look forward to hearing your reaction to it.
Call me any time at 474-5251 ext. 115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.