Election season is a little weird this year. Worries about the coronavirus are changing the way candidates campaign — no door-to-door Saturday walking tours and definitely no shaking dozens of hands.

But there’s plenty of campaign signs plastered on fences and in yards around the state. Political mailers are showing up in mailboxes and inboxes. And the other day sign-wavers were occupying a prime corner along Kalanianaole Highway, wearing masks and standing the appropriate 6 feet apart.

We’re planning robust coverage of elections this year even as we strive to cover a pandemic, a collapsing economy and police accountability. In fact, elections are probably even more important for readers to follow because of the huge issues facing Hawaii that fall squarely in the lap of elected officials.

Elections 2020 Card with Bokeh Background

So, here we go.

Beginning today, you will be able to read plenty of Candidate Q&As on our site. We have sent out questionnaires to every candidate — more than 300 — who filed paperwork with the state by June 2 to run for office. Our plan is to publish them as they are returned and they will be housed on our Candidates 2020 page. You can always find a link at the top of our homepage or on our main archive page (link also at the top right of the homepage).

Candidates: Please get those surveys back to us as soon as you can. You should have received it in your email last week, but if not drop our elections editor, Richard Wiens, a note at candidate@civilbeat.org.

We’ve been publishing the Q&As every election year since 2012. They get thousands of views especially in the days leading up to the election so they are a good way to get your views in front of voters, especially when you can’t do the traditional campaign tactics.

Earlier this month we published our “Hawaii Elections 2020: Primary Ballot” which tells you a lot about the Aug. 8 primary and also lists those hundreds of candidates so you can see who is running in your district. We will link to their questionnaires as soon as they come in.

We also published our “Hawaii Elections Guide 2020” that should be a good resource for voters, especially this year since it’s the first time Hawaii has conducted its elections completely by mail. Our guide has lots of links to official state sites like the elections office and the state and federal campaign finance agencies as well as the political parties and several watchdog organizations that can help you find out as much as possible about the candidates you’re interested in.

Our elections coverage this year will strive to focus on the big issues facing Hawaii and our communities as well as things we think the voters should know about the people they are putting in office.

It’s always tough to spend as much time reporting and writing about everyone who’s running for office as the candidates and their supporters would like to see. This year will be even tougher as our small crew of Civil Beat reporters (there’s 10 of us here on Oahu and three correspondents on the neighbor islands) continue to report on the crush of news that is happening in Hawaii right now.

As always, our reporting focus will be on the major candidates but we encourage every candidate to take advantage of the other ways we offer to get your messages in front of voters. In addition to the Q&As, we’ll again be publishing pieces written by candidates, their supporters and opponents in our Campaign Corner section.

One word of warning: No cheap shots or assertions that come off more as personal attacks than airing of a candidate’s positions. That goes for the comments at the bottom of stories too; we strictly reject comments that sink to what’s little more than name-calling or unfair assertions about what someone may or may not have said or done in the past. Be civil and be thoughtful.

Our elections coverage this year will strive to focus on the big issues facing Hawaii and our communities as well as things we think the voters should know about the people they are putting in office. We strive to go beyond the talking points they put on their campaign websites so you’ll see us asking about transparency, for instance, or how they stack up on ethical issues.

But what do you think? Please start a discussion in the comments below. Or drop us a note at news@civilbeat.org. We’d love to make sure we’re asking the right questions and getting you the information you need.

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