Maybe you read our endorsement of Gov. Ted Kulongoski for a second term and thought, andquot;Those editorials must be written by a bunch of leftwingers down at the paper.andquot;

Maybe you read our endorsement of Rep. Greg Walden this year or of President George W. Bush two years ago and thought, andquot;Those editorials must be written by a bunch of rightwingers down at the paper.andquot;

Maybe you read our takes on the school bond levy or the city council and just thought, andquot;Leftwing, rightwing those editorials are plain flightless. Nothing but a bunch of fencesitters down at the paper.andquot;

And let's hope you didn't read our endorsement of a Libertarian for Secretary of State two years ago and think, andquot;Now those drug-loving gun nuts down at the paper have really done it ...andquot;

Well, you get the picture.

Newspaper editorial boards get the tough job of being not so much non-partisan as beyond partisanship.

Whether the candidate is a Democrat, Republican or andquot;Other,andquot; we try and understand the arguments and rationale they bring to the table. Then we try and articulate which candidate best fits the needs of the community we serve, and why.

We're under no illusion that these endorsements will sway the vote one way or the other. Surveys conducted by the Pew Center for the People and the Press have found newspaper endorsements hold less and less sway with voters. Some voters even vote against newspaper endorsements.

But for all the power of the Internet and TV, newspapers remain an important forum for vetting political candidates.

We have access to the candidates, and do our best to share that access with you.

And if you disagree with our assessment, you can as many of you have write a letter to the editor and share your own two cents. Just try doing that with television.

Newspapers are a rare business, owing our freedom to the founders. We return the favor by taking on the responsibility of trying to help citizens keep tabs on their government, rushing to the center of whatever issue or mess the public needs to know about next.

It's an imperfect system, this democracy and free society we enjoy in America, but it's arguably the best ever put forth on the face of the earth.

Sure, we might sell more papers if we ran, say, lingerie ads on page one instead of schematics of the proposed new middle school.

Today, however, the functioning of this imperfect system rests in your hands.

If you've cast your ballot after much consideration, you've done your job.

If you've turned your nose up in disgust at all the ads and endorsements and other debris and have yet to vote, get over it. Trust your mind and your conscience and if need be, take our two cents worth.

Or don't.

Either way, vote. In the final analysis, that's all we really ask you to do. And that's something everyone should endorse.