2009-11-05 / Editorial

Did old-style politics sway our town election?

• EDITORIAL •

Jamestown’s 2009 election is history. We’ve got a new Town Council, voted three members to sit on the School Committee and re-affirmed our Town Moderator.

We’d like to congratulate the winners and thank everyone – candidates and voters – for their participation in our most recent island election. We know that the new council and school committee members will do their best for our community.

But one wonders if this election is really over?

Some observers are questioning whether the election was affected by a scurrilous last-minute campaign tactic. At least one candidate – Mike Schnack, who was elected to the Town Council – is planning to file a complaint with the state attorney general’s office.

Just prior to election day, many Jamestown residents who live on the island’s north end received an anonymous mailing. The letter made false accusations about two of the candidates’ stands on town water and sewer issues, and property taxes. The letter was timed so that the candidates who were skewered would not have time for a response.

State election laws require that all political advertising, whether on television or radio, or in print or posters or flyers, must be signed and attributed to the parties who paid for the ads. Even our federal election laws require similar attribution.

It is unfortunate to note that this type of scurrilous election tactic has been a fairly common occurrence in Jamestown politics. There have been several incidents in the past 30 years where unsigned last-minute mailings and flyers have been circulated just before the day that voters go to the polls.

We should have fair and open elections here in Jamestown.

Jamestown attorney John Murphy takes note of this most recent questionable election tactic in his Murphy’s Law column titled “Cowardice” published in this issue of the Jamestown Press.

We agree with John’s commentary and ask that state election officials and the state attorney general promptly investigate this matter.

— Jeff McDonough

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