A good opinion section should serve as a town square, where people can exchange ideas — just as Mayor Ken McClure did in welcoming young and old to Park Central Square recently for the raising of the new city flag.

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Being a good citizen of Metro Springfield involves not merely living here. Along with rights, you also have responsibilities: obey laws; participate in public affairs; promote the general welfare of your fellow citizens.

The Daily Citizen’s Voices section is one place where you can exercise good citizenship. You can learn what others are thinking and share your views on local issues. (And, you won’t be subjected to our views on the issues. More on that in a bit.)

While the Voices section is a work in progress, starting today, we are accepting letters to the editor and proposals for guest columns to supplement the community columnists we are featuring on a regular basis.

Letters must be sent in an email message or by using our letter submission form. Find that form and all of our letters guidelines here.

Our goal for Voices is to provide a space for a range of viewpoints, respecting the spectrum of political and cultural traditions and beliefs that are present in our community. We want to provide a home where people — especially those in this region’s vast middle majority — feel comfortable.

We believe calm and moderate voices should not be drowned out by the loud voices at the extremes. Sharp disagreements on some issues tend to overshadow the broad agreement that exists on many issues.

Our Voices section won’t be the wild west. We will be reviewing letters to verify and fact-check key points. Writers will need to cite sources for their facts and readers often will be able to follow links to source materials. It is not sufficient to say you heard something on TV or saw it on social media. You need to track down the original source.

While you are entitled to your own opinion, the Daily Citizen is not required to publish it. Verbal attacks and name-calling will not be tolerated, and letters including such attacks will be rejected. Try not to question the motives of another person. Express your own views with conviction, and respond to different opinions with an open mind.

Our advice: Since letters are opinions, sometimes a simple statement is better than a long, fact-filled defense intended to support the opinion.

A few other key points:

  • Focus on local issues: Please, we can read endlessly in other places about national politics. We hope you will use the Daily Citizen’s Voices section to focus on local and state issues. We will limit the number of letters on national topics.
  • We prefer letters that are submitted exclusively to the Daily Citizen, and particularly those that take as their starting point an article in the Daily Citizen.
  • Short, pithy letters (200 words or less) get high priority for publication. Letters of more than 500 words will be rejected. If you need to write something longer than 500 words, email me with a proposal for a guest column.

Our featured columnists include monthly contributions from the Rev. Kenneth L. Chumbley, an Episcopal priest, writer and spiritual director, and Julie G. Higgins, a Springfield entrepreneur and founder of I Pour Life. We will be developing other regular contributors along the way. If you know someone who might make a good columnist, please email me.

We won’t tell you who to vote for, or what to think

The Daily Citizen will not be advocating any particular point of view on issues, nor endorsing candidates in elections. This is in part because we think readers can be confused about whether something is a reported story or an opinion article.

Plus, as a nonprofit organization, we need to steer clear of politics, per the rules of the Internal Revenue Service.

We certainly can — and likely will — be heavily involved in voter education, not just through news coverage, but also through other efforts to encourage participation in elections. We may partner with other organizations, such as the League of Women Voters or other nonpartisan groups, but never in a way that favors (or opposes) a particular candidate or political party.

Throughout our website, we are committed to going beyond providing you with in-depth news about the issues you care most about. We believe good journalism brings issues to light, but great journalism brings communities together.

We want to be a catalyst for good and inspire the citizens of Metro Springfield to take action on the issues that are important to them.

Please consider exercising one of the responsibilities of being a good citizen: share your views in our Voices section.

You can learn more about the Daily Citizen policies, our mission, our people, our structure, and our funding by exploring the About section of our website.

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Hauxeda. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@hauxeda.com or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler