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We’ve built Lookout, now almost two years old, with a singular mission in mind: Help make Santa Cruz County a better place for all who live here. That community betterment ethos drives our reporting, our company and our culture.

Today, we take another step in fulfilling that mission, as we begin offering Lookout’s own views, our editorials on the most compelling issues and decisions of the day.

It’s no coincidence that our first editorial derives from our own work. Mark Conley’s determined reporting on significant pesticide use adjacent to Watsonville-area schools compels us to ask some fundamental questions and call for better oversight to protect our children and families. Such digging into stories, whether done by Lookout or other local news media, will often provide fodder for us to explore in editorials.

Good accountability reporting — whether on pesticides near schools, jail conditions or the public health response to teen use of fentanyl — should and will drive what we believe must be on the public agenda.

This week, you’ll also begin seeing our endorsements in key races for the Nov. 8 election. Here, too, we believe a strong, trustworthy, independent and nonpartisan local news medium owes its community a stand-back, whole view of the candidates and measures before us. The editorials are our best effort to weigh the issues, the candidates and offer you a guide to our thinking.

This comes on top of the other community service we are providing in this election, and for years to come. Our reporting — fair, timely and analytic — is our main priority, and we are now at a full newsroom of 10, the largest in the county, to bring you that journalism. Our Community Voices section, just six months old, provides a wide-open platform for informed opinion, debate and personal stories. Right now, in the height of election season, you are hearing directly from candidates and measure proponents and opponents on our pages, as well as from letters-to-the-editor writers. Our candidate and measures forums — three this season, the second held earlier this week and the third set for Monday — put voters and those running and advocating face to face. It allows you — our readers — to meet and watch people you may vote for answer questions in real time.

We view this as democracy in action. We are encouraged by the turnout, the audience questions and thank-yous we have received from readers and politicians.

Now, we move forward with endorsements, offering you one more take on the most crucial decisions we make as citizens: voting.

Who writes the editorials and endorsements?

For this election cycle and time period, it’s Jody K. Biehl, our Community Voices editor, and me, the founder of Lookout. Between us, we’ve got more than 70 years of journalism experience. In addition to assessing the candidates and issues through all the local reporting we read and the forums we host and attend, we interview the candidates and advocates in person, probing deeply on your behalf.

Our goal is straightforward.

We want to connect the dots in the news and reporting we see in the community, and sometimes beyond, and offer a bigger-picture view — all intended to see Santa Cruz County meet the challenges of the day.

Ken Doctor, Founder

Ken Doctor first discovered Santa Cruz as a 17-year-old coming to UCSC in the school’s third year of existence. In founding Lookout Santa Cruz in 2020, Ken completes a long arc from those student days. Along...