By The Dallas Morning News

If you viewed voting as simply putting numbers on a scoreboard — for your team or against the other guy’s — this might not matter much to you. But you seek a higher standard. That’s why you’re here.

And that’s why political candidates — especially those asking you to return them to office — owe you the courtesy, if nothing else, of giving your questions and concerns thoughtful consideration and response.

The Dallas Morning News, along with other publications across the state and nation, takes its role in this process seriously. That’s why we provide a forum for candidates seeking office to step into the spotlight and submit to questions we are asking on behalf of you, the voter.

The newspaper isn’t the only place for candidates to give voters a good look at them; politicians can also make themselves available for public examination at events such as town halls and news conferences.

But often, editorial board interviews are the best venue because they provide both an open and fair setting as well as tough questions that push politicians beyond talking points. And in some races, newspapers are the only avenue of information.

This public disclosure is a critical wheel in democracy’s inner workings, with learning that goes both ways in the interviews. As we considered about 200 candidates in 75 races on the March 6 primary ballot, we certainly gained a lot of knowledge. We hope you, the reader, did too.

The vast majority of those vying for office sat down with us, including many whom we’ve long criticized. Among those who chose not to attend this year were U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Attendance at these meetings is just one of many factors that make up our decisions. For instance, although Gov. Greg Abbott also did not meet with our board, we nonetheless recommended him in his GOP primary.

As the first round of voting begins in this jam-packed election year, we pledge to continue to put that bright spotlight on candidates. There are many things voters want to know from the men and women seeking office. You have questions; you deserve answers.

When politicians refuse to field those questions, they are telling you that they don’t care what you want to know. Oh, they still want your vote, but they are less interested in earning it.

Candidates will have more interview opportunities in 2018, as runoffs and the general election ensue. All of them would be wise to remember the “invisible” voters of 2016 — angry and frustrated with government because they felt ignored and unrepresented.

Politicians can rebuild that public trust by going the extra mile when it comes to public scrutiny. Engaging in interviews designed to spotlight their positions is one key way to show the voters of North Texas that candidates understand who holds the power in a democracy.

Early voting is underway and runs through March 2. Election Day is March 6.

The Dallas Morning News