It’s that time again, when political arguments become even fiercer and more venomous, and accusations are thicker than pigeons around a pile of spilled popcorn.

Yes, it’s an election year.

With city elections nearing, we’d like to clarify a few things.

First, the candidate-support sign on the building that houses the Observer office isn’t affiliated with us. The sign belongs to our landlord, who also maintains an office in the building.

He didn’t ask for our permission to put it up, nor does he need our permission. It’s his building and his right to free speech.

We won’t argue against free speech, and we think it’s good when people participate in the political process.

We just want to make it clear that we’re not taking sides in that race or any other. The sign doesn’t represent us, and we neither endorse nor condemn the stance it takes.

As for the column by a sitting city councilor, also candidate for re-election, in last Sunday’s paper, we did not solicit it. It was sent, from our perspective, out of the blue and seemed like a legitimate viewpoint for people to consider when deciding whether to vote for the proposed road bond in March.

Plus, we support our elected officials’ efforts to communicate with their constituents and see it as part of their duty to provide information and responses in some way.

Yes, other candidates absolutely can express their views on the road bond by writing to the Observer. The rest of the Rio Rancho populous can, so why restrict candidates from having the same privilege?

We also want to be fair to everyone.

Of course, everybody will have to follow the same rules, regardless of whether they’re running for office. Submissions are limited to 500 words; each person can submit a letter or column only once a month and no specific candidate endorsements or “vote for me” language will be allowed as an unpaid opinion piece.

The decision of whether a candidate is abusing the letter-to-the-editor privilege, however unintentionally, will be made at the discretion of our editor, and the candidate will be informed of the issue and given the option of having the letter printed as a paid ad. But we don’t believe that taking a position on proposed bonds in a single letter is abuse for any candidate.

Also, we have sent all Rio Rancho municipal candidates a questionnaire that includes questions about road maintenance and public safety, as well as other subjects. The questionnaires are scheduled to run in our Feb. 9 edition.

Candidates, the questionnaires were emailed Monday to the address you provided when you declared candidacy with the city clerk.

Please check your email if you haven’t already. If you don’t have the questionnaire, contact editor Argen Duncan at [email protected] or 891-7172 as soon as possible so another copy of the questionnaire can be sent to you.

Finally, we’re planning articles about the proposed road and public safety bonds. Keep an eye out for them in the next couple of weeks.