The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

Here’s how I know fall has arrived in Tucson:

Dorothy the desert tortoise is tucked in for winter, spiders have taken over the patio furniture and the flow of incoming letters to the editor is picking up speed.

I’ve been in the Opinion department since 2008 in various jobs and there is a certain rhythm to the year.

Summer is slow-ish, fall welcomes back our seasonal residents and winter hits a stride that will dip a bit when the weather is too glorious to stay indoors.

The legislative session that begins in January always kick-starts letters and guest opinion column submissions through spring.

At least that’s how it’s been most years. Elections spike the submissions, especially presidential elections —and especially before, during and after the 2016 presidential election.

Heading into the 2020 election season, which yes, I know, has already started, I’d like to share some changes we’re making behind the scenes to improve our — your — Star Opinion section.

We receive roughly two dozen letters every day — it was 19 letters on Oct. 30 and 27 on Oct. 31 — and three to five guest opinion columns each day, too.

We read them all, publish them online and select a representative group for print publication.

We have generally abided by a once-a-month rule for print publication. But we receive so few letters from Republicans — it’s a roughly 90/10 split liberal to conservative submissions — that we’ve bent that rule a bit lately.

Some of you have kept extremely close tabs on this and aren’t pleased. Let me explain.

Sharing a range of ideas and viewpoints on the Opinion pages is essential in a democracy, so until we receive Republican letters from more writers, we’re going to keep treating the every-30-days as a guideline, not a hard rule.

Our Opinion staff is small — me, opinion writer Edward Celaya and news assistant Sara Brown and we need your help.

If you submit a letter or guest opinion column, you must include your sources for information. Include links in the “notes” field at the bottom of the submission form. They don’t have to be in footnote form, and they don’t count against the word limits.

Make it easy for us to fact check your work. For example, if you state that a particular person said or did something, tell us how you know that — and “I heard it somewhere” isn’t enough. Link to a report or article or interview.

If you cite a specific fact or figure, share the source link. If you don’t, we may ask you for the information — or bypass your submission altogether.

I love the conversations that happen on the Opinion pages and want them to be as vibrant, interesting and accurate as possible.

Thank you for your help.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen is the Opinion editor of the Star. Email her at