If the air has begun feeling crisp and the leaves are turning a bright yellow to match the schoolbuses rolling beneath them, it must be time for the… spring primaries? Well, it’s been that kind of year again in North Carolina. A Republican challenge to the legislature’s redistricting plan took most of the summer to work its way through the courts, and ultimately was upheld. The result was local elections and primaries on Sept. 10 that originally were planned in May. The Congressional and legislative lines that were approved hurt Democrats, angered African Americans, and left many contests without time to hold runoffs before the November general election.

You’d think, with all that extra time, the public would have had the chance to get to know the candidates better. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Legislative and congressional races were on hold, and the U.S. Senate candidates seem to have spent more of the extra time raising money than publicly debating the issues. Few of the local races seem to have stirred much debate–though in some cases, such as the Orange County and Durham schools, there are issues coming to a head. Chatham County, with its heated sheriff and county commissioners’ races, seems to be the big exception.

So let these endorsements spur you to vote, or ask questions if you don’t agree with our opinions. Our endorsements are based on extensive reporting and research. We send questionnaires to all of the candidates asking for detailed positions on issues they’ll face in office. We attend public forums and conduct numerous supplemental interviews with local political activists, neighborhood leaders and observers.

We also have assembled voting guides that you can clip out and carry to the polls. Look for another set of Independent endorsements on Oct. 30 for the General Election on Nov. 5.