If you’ve been reading my reports of interviews with Republican candidates in Utah County, you may want to know what’s behind them. So here I am, John Mulholland, interviewing John Mulholland.
Q: Please describe your process.
A: It goes like this:
- I contact each candidate and set up a time for a video, phone, or in-person interview. If any candidates are unwilling to do this, I don’t interview them.
- I interview the candidate.
- I write up my summary of the interview and have someone proofread it.
- I send my draft to the candidate for corrections and request a headshot. Sometimes they respond. Sometimes they don’t.
- David Rodeback, who produces AFelection.info, reviews the draft. He might just do some light editing, or he might come back to me with substantive edits.
- When we’re both happy, we publish the post.
Q: How long does it take?
A: I average about two hours per candidate. David spends a half-hour per post, give or take, editing, formatting, and optimizing the posts for SEO.
Q: How do you choose the order for the candidates in your reports?
A: I follow the order of my interviews.
Q: Do you try to be fair and even-handed, or are you promoting certain candidates?
A: I try my best to be fair. I send my articles to the candidates for any corrections. If they dispute something, I investigate it further. I add an author’s note if there is something extra that the reader needs to know about me or my viewpoint.
I sometimes ask readers which candidates they think I like most, based on what I wrote. It’s good feedback. And having an editor who cares about fairness and accuracy helps a lot.
Q: Are some candidates more difficult than others?
A: I have to contact some candidates or their staff multiple times to get a response. Others are super easy to interview and offer few, if any, corrections.
There is one big thing that makes it much more difficult for me to talk to a candidate: dishonesty. This is politics, and some candidates exaggerate or mislead when talking about their opponents or themselves. Some even spread conspiracies about things like election fraud, without providing any real evidence.
Q: Do you have a journalism degree? What qualifies you to write about these candidates?
My degrees are in Computer and Electrical Engineering. My day job is writing software for Android. The only class I ever failed was English. But I care about good government, I pay attention, and I get involved when I can.
Q: How did you get started?
I used to think I would be an awful writer after I failed that English class, but some people challenged me to start writing and I did. After I saw a candidate get elected by delegates who had no idea about his past, I decided to help provide the most accurate information I could about the candidates. This fits the reasons David Rodeback and Rod Martin started AFelection.info. They thought that, the more voters hear about candidates and issues — and especially the more they hear from the candidates themselves — the better results we’ll get in our local elections.
Q: What’s in it for you?
I don’t get paid for this. (AFelection.info doesn’t try to make money either, and it doesn’t.) I have a great day job.
Dan Hemmert did point out that I do get some political influence from it, but my main goal is to help provide accurate information to voters and help candidates get their messages out.
Q: Who will you write about next?
I hope to write about some of our federal candidates, such as Senator Mike Lee and Congressman John Curtis and their opponents, if I can get the interviews.
Q: I have some juicy information about a candidate. Will you publish it?
A: That’s really two questions: Will I write about it? And if I do, will AFelection.info publish it? I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but I’d need to determine that it’s both accurate and relevant, and I’d want to explore other sides of the story. There’s always at least one other side. But publishing is a separate question.
A: (Cameo appearance by David) There are other places to publish things, and I can’t speak for them. As for AFelection.info, I wouldn’t say no, absolutely not, sight unseen. If the information is reliable and relevant, and we can present it in context, with a balanced perspective, we would consider it.
Q: How can I help?
A: Three thoughts:
- It’s very time consuming. I could use some help setting up appointments and following up with candidates for possible corrections. Lisa Shepherd did that for a special election, and it made things so much easier.
- I can only cover so many races. You could help with other races.
- The more people there are studying the candidates and issues and sharing their thoughts about both, the better, especially in local races. Find a place (such as AFelection.info) to publish your best thoughts, or make your own place and share, share, share.
There’s always another election coming. County, state, and national races happen in the even-numbered years, and local elections are on the odd-numbered years.
John Mulholland lives in American Fork, Utah. His writing on Utah politics has appeared at Utah Politico Hub. See his reports on interviews with candidates Utah County Sheriff, Utah County Attorney, Utah County Auditor, Utah County Clerk, Utah County Commission Seat A, Utah County Commission Seat B, and House District 53.
If you’ve written on a topic related to American Fork politics or government and would like to be a guest contributor at AFElection.info, inquire via e-mail at david @ rodeback.com.