Editorial: Keep it Clean

Last week, when we wrote about the elections and civility, we did not anticipate writing again about the subject matter before Election Day. However, since then, disturbing mailings have been sent out in our community that can only be characterized as negative campaigning. There is no place in our community for negative campaigning, and we are extremely disappointed in the two candidates who chose to engage in such juvenile behavior. To be clear, any candidate running for office in our community who engages in negative campaigning is someone we would be disappointed by, regardless of party affiliation.

In one case, John Blankley has sent a series of negative mailings against his opponent for state Senate, incumbent Scott Frantz. In each he criticizes his opponent’s positions without offering any substantive ones of his own. While that is unfortunate, what is most disturbing ethically is his use of a doctored or “photo shopped” image of  Mr. Frantz. We had assumed that, given Mr. Blankley’s usual gentlemanly behavior and good nature, he would have acted as a gentleman during this campaign. We were wrong. The fact that Mr. Blankley is using taxpayer money (our money) through the public campaign finance system to fund his negative campaign mailings compounds the error in judgment.

Dita Bhargava is running against incumbent Fred Camillo for the 151st House District. Dita has chosen a tactic that Democrats are using across the state: attempting to tie their opponent to Donald Trump. Her mailings take a quote of Fred Camillo’s out of context, giving the impression that he supports Mr. Trump in all areas, when in fact Mr. Camillo has called Mr. Trump’s remarks about women, the Second Amendment, and Hillary Clinton sexist, racist and abhorrent. The fact that Ms. Bhargava does not attribute the quote in the ad, as is standard practice, makes us wonder if she was purposely trying to mislead voters.

Negative campaigning has no place in Greenwich and it doesn’t work. In the past, candidates have typically lost votes when they went negative here. That may be becuase we want to hear what the candidates will do about the issues facing our state. We do not want to listen to or see them trying to mislead us about their opponents, especially with altered photographs.

We are a diverse community economically, socially, ethically, and in many other ways. It is that diversity that makes Greenwich such a wonderful community to live in and raise a family. It has become a richly woven fabric. When someone running for office does not use the opportunity—that temporary soap box—to share ideas about improving the future of our community, but instead tries to tear their opponent down, then they tear at that fabric, and it is harmful to our community.

Public office is a public trust. Facts are facts. When the United States Census Bureau states clearly that Connecticut is losing population, to say otherwise is irresponsible. We must trust that those we elect to serve will do what is in the best interest of our community. Perhaps the demagoguery that has permeated the national campaigns has unfortunately found its way into our local campaigns. We certainly hope this is not the case. We must ensure that the new low the national campaigns have sunk to does not become the new norm. We must find our way back to a sense of bipartisanship on the national level and even here within our state. One-party control, by either party, is dangerous. In Hartford, it has built the incredibly unstable financial foundation on which Connecticut now sits.

Greenwich is an intelligent community. We are one of the safest communities in the country, our schools are terrific and we respect and celebrate our diversity. Negative campaigning has no place here. It insults our intelligence and makes us question those who promote it.

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