Vote Responsibly

Posted: July 24, 2018

By: Amanda Kelton

For the last few days I have been pretty fired up, and it occurred to me that I may have given the impression that I have a problem with the other candidates running for Mayor. I would like to state for the record that I absolutely do not.

Over the last six months, I have gotten to know Mayor Norman and Commissioner Shackelford during commission meetings and campaign events. Every interaction I have had with these gentlemen leads me to believe that they are both honest straight-shooters, and I couldn’t imagine either of them being a willing participant in such deceptive politics. And although I have had much less contact with him, I have no reason to believe that Andy Ogles is running anything but a clean campaign. As far as I can tell, all four campaigns have been trying their best to keep things civil and fair.

Now of course, this race has been a competition. We have all been trying to paint ourselves in the best light possible, even though we might throw a bit of shade at our opponents on occasion. But I feel as if it has been an honest competition, at least between the candidates and official campaigns. If I have said anything my opponents feel is wrong or unfair I would hope that they would let me know so that I could correct, clarify, or even recant my statement. If an apology is called for, it would be made public and sincere. This is just a part of being a responsible leader. We are all part of the same community, and although we might have conflicts and disagreements, we should strive to remain civil and resolve our problems professionally.

I truly hope that Mayor Norman and Commissioner Shackelford will not lose any votes because the Daily Herald and the Chairman of the Democratic Party engaged in cheap politics for their benefit – just as I hope that I will not lose any votes because someone decided to send out mailers helping my campaign without my knowledge or consent. They will, and I will, of course, but both cases are unfair to candidates who have been striving to maintain clean and positive campaigns.

We all know that dirty politics and crooked politicians exist (try not to laugh at the understatement). These things are far too common, and they are poisons and cancers on democracy. As voters, we have a responsibility to remain vigilant, recognize, and minimize the effects of bad actors on our elections. If you are concerned about an anonymous group sending out mailers on my behalf, without my knowledge, great! You are being a responsible voter. No one is more concerned about it than I am, trust me. But you must also recognize when political party operatives and news organizations seek to influence elections using misrepresentations, unfair associations, and straight up lies. The small amount my campaign benefited from one little mailer is nothing compared to how much is suffers when the Maury County Democratic Party and Daily Herald – both large and trusted institutions – tell people not to vote for me because the mailers may or may not have been part of a secret strategy to help one of my opponents (without providing any real evidence, I might add).

So, what should you do? You should vote for whichever candidate you believe will do the best job as Maury County Mayor of course. It is the responsible thing to do. As for chairmen of political parties and editors of newspapers – they have a responsibility as leaders of their respective organizations to make public any concerns they may have about a candidate’s qualifications or associations early enough in the process that the candidate has an opportunity to address those concerns and voters can use that information to make a better decision. Waiting until the final days of the election to say, “This guy is so terrible that outside people are trying to get you to vote for someone else so that he can win with less votes, therefore you should not vote for that person but should instead vote for one of these people we like better so that they can win instead,” is ridiculous. It is irresponsible. And it is an abuse of their positions of trust and authority. Part of being a responsible voter is promoting responsible voting, calling out abuses wherever you see them, and working to change the system (and leadership if necessary) to help prevent further abuse. Be a responsible voter. Vote responsibly.

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