Across the nation, voters and the media are putting candidates, citizen-initiative campaigns and their consultants on notice: Stop negative, issueless campaigning.
This movement is supported not only by voters and the media but ironically by some politicians as well.
We think it is time for Boca Raton to take note, and say No to this divisive tactic.
Our March election season was perhaps the worst for negative advertising in Boca Raton history. Residents were overwhelmed by the negative messages that came at them through their mailboxes, TV’s, computers and smart phones.
Negative advertising has been proven to suppress voter turnout, particularly for Independent voters. Campaigns tend to go negative only if the Independent vote is leaning toward their opponent, thus insuring that the swing voter stays home.
While most politicians initially promise to conduct a ‘positive’ campaign, there are those who go negative from the outset. For the most part negative campaigning communicates half truths, outright lies, or events taken out of context.
Complicating this issue are instances when factual information, that would help voters determine who to support, is brought to light. In this case negativity is in the eye of the beholder.
Candidates who deploy direct ‘attack’ tactics typically hide behind their Public Relations companies or allow Political Action Committees (PACS) to do their dirty work. “It didn’t come from me”, they say as they protest their innocence.
I can report that a neighbor and fellow campaign volunteer expressed concern when her elderly parents refused to vote for their first choice for mayor because of the ‘Boogeyman’ mailers they received.
An additional concern is the growing trend of recruiting votes by professional groups designed to solicit mail-in ballots.
These professional recruiters, known in Miami as Boleteros, are often elderly and have years of experience working as campaign volunteers and block-walkers.
Over time, they develop relationships with senior citizens and voters in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes and they use these relationships to influence voters on behalf of the candidate employing them.
Our elected officials should be required to meet a higher standard of campaign ethics and practices than what we recently experienced.
The 2017 award for a positive campaign goes to Councilman Scott Singer. We’ll let the readers decide who deserves the ‘Booby Prize’.
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