It has become almost trite to observe that we're in a politically divisive period, but I had thought local politics could remain on higher ground here in Summit.

I'm dismayed to see this has not been the case in recent weeks, as I observe tactics that are going above and beyond the typical sign wars with campaign flyers, dropped in neighbors' doors, impugning Common Council candidate Greg Vartan's character and credentials (e.g., suggesting he has avoided paying taxes, which is blatantly untrue). 

If silence implies approval, then ignoring this kind of political behavior gives tacit consent to its practice. I'm speaking up because I don't consent: This is not okay. What will be the next level of negativity?

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I'm proud that our Common Council is made up of people from both parties who listen to all citizens of Summit and work together for solutions. We may not agree on every issue, but we need to demonstrate respect for other points of view, and for every person who is willing to dedicate enormous amounts of time to our civic well-being. Most of the people in Summit who serve in local government and/or volunteer their time on boards behave in accordance with this standard. Personal attacks and deceitful practices have no place among neighbors. 

I applaud Greg Vartan for speaking up against these practices at Saturday's Candidate Forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Greg was less concerned with clearing his reputation -- that's already stellar -- than for re-setting a higher standard.  (You can view the debate on HomeTowne TV, or on the SMDC facebook page.)

I invite you to join Greg, and me, in insisting that our local political discourse focus on issues, priorities and points of view rather than dirty tactics, like signs for political candidates (notably Bob Hugin) posted on unauthorized or prohibited property -- for example, in front of The Grand Summit Hotel parking lot or at the train station -- and removal of signs for Democratic candidates from front lawns -- which is illegal, and can be reported through this link:

And let's cease and desist with the mean-spirited personal attacks. It's not okay when our President acts this way, and it's not okay when our local political parties act this way. Summit deserves better. 

Susan Hairston 
Summit Municipal Democratic Committee