Donald Trump style politics does not fly in Westfield. In the 2016 national election, Trump received 35% of the vote. In the 2017 local election, then-Mayor Andy Skibitsky distanced himself from Trump, declaring, “the only thing I have in common with Trump is that we both married models.” In the aftermath, Republican Assemblyman Jon Bramnick declared the sweeping Democratic win was due to Trump backlash. It seemed everyone understood that Trump-style politics is just not what Westfield wants.
Enter Richard Bodmer.
In 2019, as citizens announced their candidacies for town council in their respective wards, I did what every engaged citizen should do — I Googled. Mr. Bodmer had not yet set up an official site for his campaign so all that popped up was his personal Facebook page, which was completely public. I scrolled through, expecting to see the usual photos of family and friends, and hoping to see a few posts related to his political beliefs and plans to kick off his campaign. I was surprised to find his Facebook profile littered with racist xenophobic conspiracy theories spewed by groups such as “Neon Nettle” and “Russian Bots 4 Trump.” Oh no. Was this guy really going to run as the Republican candidate?
My concern deepened later in the year when Mr. Bodmer posted on various Facebook pages seeking donations for his campaign. I commented “Can you point us to your campaign page where we can see your platform?” (or something like that, I can’t see that post anymore, more on that later). No response except to point me to his “Vote for Bodmer” page. I have yet to see an official platform from Mr. Bodmer.
On Aug. 23, we were all taken aback by the sudden closing of the Rialto theater. Within a few hours of this news, Mr. Bodmer created the “Save The Rialto” Facebook page. On this page, Mr. Bodmer refused to identify himself as creator/admin of the site (although he admitted it elsewhere). He created the page with no knowledge of the circumstances of the closure and initial posts were simply attacks on the current administration for the closure and the state of downtown since 2017. Worse, he deletes comments from the page that provide information or point out its political motivations.
Recent posts include claims that a crack team of experts working together to “Save the Rialto.” Partisan squabbling now takes up the majority of comments with one person repeatedly yelling (Facebook style, all caps) about DEMONRATS. I have said before and I will repeat — the “Save the Rialto” site started as a farce and has since devolved into pure political buffoonery.
Finally, Mr. Bodmer has taken to blocking citizens from his personal Facebook page, which he uses to communicate to members of the public. Those blocked (including myself) cannot see what he is posting on various forums, express their viewpoint or interact directly with his posts.
So, I ask, do the citizens of Ward 2 want as their representative a man who peddles the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that motivated the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter? What kind of politician will jump on misfortune in order to sow divisiveness and drum up support? What kind of politician seeks to censor and block people because he doesn’t like the views they express? We know how Westfield has responded to this kind of politician in the past, and Ward 2 voters will have the opportunity to reiterate their response on Nov. 5.