When I told my wife that several people suggested that I seek to serve on the Verona Council, she at first worried that even local political campaigns could degenerate into “dirty politics” filled with character assassination and personal attacks; and she even worried about future effects of such abuses on our young children. But after much discussion about it within our family and among our many friends in town, everybody urged me to run and put aside such fears because they all felt that our community in Verona is special and that even election campaigns in Verona would be the exception.
We love this town and we still believe that it’s filled with wonderful and civic-minded people who put our citizens and our future above mere politics… and that Verona is a place where underhanded shenanigans, personal slander, and name-calling are not tolerated by our very intelligent and fair-minded citizens. What we didn’t count on, though, was that some politicians and their supporters did not abide by those standards and ethics.
I’m running for the Verona Council based on real issues of open government, fiscal discipline, preserving the residential character of our neighborhoods, protecting our local environment, and putting a stop to BORROW and SPEND schemes that will jeopardize our future and our children’s future in this great town. There is absolutely nothing wrong with vigorous debate and spirited argument in our town’s election campaigns. That’s how democracy works at its best.
But… such zealous debate and argument should be only about the ISSUES and about what vision of the future is best for all the people who live here, not attacks on individuals’ characters and integrity. Sadly, it seems that a nastiness and “a politics of personal destruction” has crept into our public discourse over the last two years… and has reached its cynical height in this campaign. This need not be; Verona and its citizens are so much better than that.
Yes…let’s debate the issues with passion and conviction. We’ve heard a lot in this campaign about how the municipal tax rate has not been increased over these last two years, but what about the runaway DEBT! It’s easy for politicians to artificially keep the tax rate down—for now!— by borrowing and borrowing, but wait until all that DEBT, with its interest payments, hammers our town over the next decade or two. Is that fiscal responsibility? Is that fair to our children’s future?
As stated in Monday’s council meeting, I FULLY support the Verona Rescue Squad and am in favor of providing the organization a facility that meets the needs of the 21st century. However, the council makes a final decision to relocate the Rescue Squad to Grove Avenue, I think we need to investigate what effect this would have on the local environment, traffic impact, noise impact…and why the hurry without allowing more public hearings to listen to the residents and the taxpayers who will be paying for this?
I believe the relocation of the Rescue Squad to Grove Avenue needs a vigorous discussion on its merits and demerits. There should be intense debate in elections …ON THE ISSUES!
Instead, some politicians and their supporters have actually claimed that my concerns over what I consider a hastily arranged purchase must somehow mean my opposition to the Rescue Squad. That’s too ludicrous to take seriously, and it’s a desperate attempt to change the subject away from the issue of whether what the politicians did was competent or incompetent! No one on either side is against the Rescue Squad. The question is how best to fix problems without burying Verona in more and more debt. Competence in decision-making is a legitimate issue, but character assassination and impugning one’s integrity has no place in our sweet town’s governance.
Everyone has the right to disagree with my principles and my positions on issues, but in a recent letter to an editor by a supporter of opposing candidates, it was explicitly stated that my “integrity” should be questioned. If any one of my supporters ever questioned the “integrity” of one of the other candidates in this election (not the position on an issue, but the integrity), I would denounce such a defamatory statement and tactic, and, in the spirit of our town’s reputation for a long tradition of honorable governance, I now call upon those candidates to denounce that unwarranted attack on my character. Attack my views, but not my integrity. That demeans the entire process, and it demeans this wonderful town.