Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Absence of Malice"...Davidson-style

Early voting closed Saturday and clearly something is happening in Davidson.  According to the State Board of Elections website, over 1500 Davidson voters have cast their ballots already.  That's setting this cycle up to very likely be a record setting contest based on the raw number of votes.  There have also been several hundred voters participating for the first time in a Davidson election, and hundreds more returning to the polls who haven't been to a municipal election very often in the past decade.

Those are all positive things no mater how Election Day turns out.

However, in the final days of #DavidsonElection2017, it hasn't all been positive energy and good vibes. No, unfortunately local politics can be about as friendly as a knife fight in a phone booth, and those in town wishing to keep the reigns of power tightly in their grasping fingers are proving that's the case.

Just like in the 1980s movie "Absence of Malice" where an innocent man is wrongfully attacked by officials using a compliant media, we've seen a concerted and coordinated effort using the media and other levers of influence to smear the Save Davidson citizen activist group here in town.

It started with a Charlotte attorney filing an anonymous "complaint" to the State BOE and sending the dubious story to the media.  The Charlotte Observer dutifully lapped it up and printed it.  The Davidsonian student publication at Davidson College did the same.  The student paper also made multiple references to other anonymous complainers questioning Save Davidson's use of an attorney who is a campaign finance expert but who also happens to live in Raleigh.  The student paper referenced even more anonymous people indicating those anonymous folks might be issuing "cease and desist letters"  - whatever that means is unknown.

That's a lot of anonymity in the media for the last two weeks before an election.

While all of this was clearly initiated as just a bunch of political theater, it did get the Save Davidson leaders' names out there in an unfavorable light.  And let's be honest, that was the whole point wasn't it?  The point all along with all this anonymity was to smear hard working, caring people who just want to bring more transparency and open government to Davidson.  The irony of anonymity being used to attack transparency should not be lost on anyone.

Mayor John Woods even took it a step further.  In a recent video Woods can be seen giving a speech at the Pines.  He's talking about the anonymous complaint and then talks about "dark money"  as if Save Davidson was some sort of ominous group that needed to be feared.  It might seem comical, but there's nothing at all funny about a sitting mayor speaking to a group of seniors in a way designed to manipulate rather than inform.

Then this weekend a group of Town Hall supporters put out a letter designed to once again cast aspersions on Save Davidson.  This time, they weren't anonymous.  They included the former mayor, Randall Kincaid, who was mayor when Mi-Connection was bought as well as a few other prominent names in Davidson's past.  The clear undertone was that they, and only they, were the arbiters of who was worthy - and who was not - to lead the town.  The views espoused in the letter made it clear that everything was just fine at their Davidson Town Hall, and if you don't agree, then you just don't understand.

All of that was a lot of work, a lot of time, effort, and money spent by a lot of people (often anonymous people) to keep the status quo.  If you haven't voted already, keep all of that in mind when you head to the polls on Tuesday.  Ask yourself why would the status quo fight so hard and so dirty against a group of residents to keep their hands on the reigns?

Ask yourself that question, then vote for change.

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