Political endorsements in small towns are tricky, tricky beasts. As a newspaper, we’re darned if we do and darned if we don’t.

With the exception of the Gardner City Council race, there are few hotly-contested, highly controversial races. Spring Hill residents will select three of four candidates for seats on the city council.

For the most part, the Spring Hill’s current city council serves residents well. Together with the staff, we have watched the community’s leaders battle to maintain current tax levels. Even when the decision has been difficult, as it was when the council voted to dramatically increase utility rates, they have striven to listen to residents while making difficult, gut-wrenching decisions.

The candidates differ, but they’ll be joining a well-oiled board that carefully considers its residents. All of the candidates will serve the community well.

In Edgerton, four experienced people are also vying for three seats on the council. Each of the four has served on the council in the past; three are incumbents and one is a former mayor.

Although the city has undergone some major staffing changes and is preparing for major changes the planned intermodal will bring, the council has found their footing. All of the candidates have the best interests of the community at heart. The citizens of Edgerton can’t go wrong with any of the four.

In Gardner, the choices are more difficult. After a heated recall, the current  council appointments were made by a mayor who won by a slim four vote majority just one year prior.

Since the appointments, there have been very, very few votes in which the council has spoken with anything less than a unanimous voice.

With the number of controversial issues hitting the Gardner City Council agenda, that’s disturbing.  Asking questions and demanding accountability can be difficult, but they are necessary to help negotiate this community through difficult economic times.

Endorsements are difficult with any election, as each candidate brings something different to the arena. In the end, the editorial board could only narrow the slate to four candidates: Jeff Barber, Larry Fotovich, Chris Morrow and Jared Taylor. There are only three open positions.

As acrimonious as city government has been the last few years, we chose Barber, Fotovich, Morrow and Taylor over the other candidates because we see them as independent thinkers who have the ability to both listen to, and voice the concern, of residents. They appear to have their egos under control and a genuine concern for community at heart. They seem to be able to accept and shrug off criticism in a professional, not vindictive, manner, and they are not afraid to step out as leaders.

Each has strengths and weaknesses.

We like the things Barber has had to say. We recognize that he is an independent voice. We worry that he is a little inexperienced in the public arena. While he has attended meetings recently, we never saw him at meetings before. We appreciate that he’s researching the issues, and that he took the initiative to do a police ride along – which is one of the city’s biggest expenditures. We like him.

We like Fotovich, too. He takes very few things at face value and isn’t afraid to advocate for his position, ask questions or demand accountability. His questioning sometimes polarizes people – you either love him or hate him – but the council needs someone willing to stand up and be heard.

Morrow has put in a lot of effort for the race. We know he’s been out pounding the pavement and talking to voters. Morrow has researched the issues, and he appears to have the strength necessary to be heard. He seems to be fair-minded and an independent thinker.

We like what Jared Taylor has to say about current issues. He appears to be libertarian in views, and we like that. Although we were not supportive of the recall election of which he was a part, we believe Taylor to be an interested community activist and an innovative thinker.

While both Barber and Morrow are new candidates, both Fotovich and Taylor carry political baggage from previous elections. Either can be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective.

As always, we hope all voters have taken the time to get to know these candidates. What’s important to us and what is important to individual voters might be two different things, and we implore voters to determine for themselves which candidates share their points of view.

We ask that all voters head to the polls on April 5 armed with information. Without it, they may as well stay home.