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Election tactics are not new

Recently, a Fredonia writer submitted a letter to the OBSERVER (Jan. 4) in which she criticized three Sheridan Republican candidates, who were running for re-election. In the article she raised her concern with a sample ballot mailed to Sheridan voters identifying our positions on the ballot. The author complained that by using the word “opponent’ and not listing our opponents by name, they were somehow “depersonalized” and “divested of human characteristics or individuality.”

I would like to point out that this was a political mailer, clearly identified as a sample ballot, or facsimile, and paid for by the Republican candidates or their campaign committees. The front of the mailer contained pictures and several bullet points about each candidate, while the reverse side identified their placement on the ballot.

Political advertising, literature, handouts, etc., help the candidates who pay for these things, to raise their name identification. Why would any candidate pay to help raise the name identification of their opponent?

Sample ballots have been used in Sheridan for a number of years, including 2017 when Sue Bigler was a candidate for town clerk. In that mailing she was identified as “opponent.” Neither Ms. Bigler or any of her surrogates complained then. Why now? If Ms. Bigler is trying to manufacture a fake issue so she can play the victim card in a future race, only time will tell.

Let me say that I agree with the writer, that “Democracy depends on our participation.” As an office holder, having an opponent in the election, actually makes me a better representative. It affords me the opportunity to hear from my constituents, to know their views — both positive and negative of my performance. But running for office is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to open themselves to public scrutiny, to public criticism, whether just or unjust. Therefore, I have nothing but respect for people who run for public office.

Let me conclude by saying, running for office involves a great deal of personal time — time spent campaigning, and especially going door-to-door.

It is also expensive, what with newspaper ads, mailers, palm cards, pens, radio spots, etc. These expenses should not have to include advertising for our opponents. I wonder how often Ms. Bigler included her opponents’ names in her literature?

If this practice makes Ms. Bigler, or her advocates, feel she was “depersonalized” or “divested of human characteristics,” that is indeed unfortunate.

Terry Niebel is a county legislator for District 5.

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