By The Gazette Editorial Board The Gazette Editorial Board offers an institutional viewpoint as part of our company's commitment to serving communities and providing leadership. Our editorials are meant to focus attention on what matters most to Eastern Iowans. Frequently within our opining are calls to action — arguments to support or change a policy or practice involving government, organizations or leaders. Our editorials are the consensus of board members, not any one individual's viewpoint. The board recently reviewed and revised our formal mission and advocacy statements that were created in October 2010, and we want to share the update with you: Our mission: To foster a comprehensive community conversation, across multiple platforms, that will help readers and constituents understand the issues most relevant to them and encourage them to form and share their own opinions. As a board, we advocate for: l First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly, adamantly focusing on open government, freedom of information issues and being the watchdog for our communities. l Open, effective, accountable government at every level, favoring collaboration and consolidation over growth in the size of government, and demanding responsible stewardship of tax dollars. l Federal budgets that reduce or eliminate deficits and pay down the national debt through a balanced strategy of reducing expenses and generating adequate revenue. l Regional economic development and cooperation among area communities that results in more high-quality jobs for the region as a whole. l Health-care systems that are patient-centered and control costs. l Transforming Iowa's educational system into one that unfolds the full potential of every child through aggressive public examination of long-held assumptions about teaching and learning. l Regional diversity in ethnicity, culture and business. l Vibrant, safe neighborhoods through public-private partnerships and residents' personal responsibility. l Forward-looking stewardship of natural resources.