As we begin to close in on the November 6 election date we can all be thankful that our time being deluged by robo-calls, mailboxes full of junk mail, solicitations from various entities seeking financial support for political parties and yes, the unfortunate anonymous emails from unknown senders and venomous websites, will shortly come to an end.
I can’t believe any one individual or group would have to raise tens of thousands of dollars to run for a simple office such as the insignificant position of city councilor on an island of 17,000 fulltime residents. The position itself only pays $6,000 a year, unless of course you have the distinct privilege of calling yourself the “Chairman,” then it pays a whopping $9,000 a year.
I can tell you without a fault, the wives of those five individuals running for that distinct privilege are all wonderful folks. For the most part they seem to all get along and hold relatively civil conversations all the time, while listening to their husbands drone on and on regarding issues that will be lost in the shuffle should one get elected.
You see, running for office is the easy part of the job, you can say almost anything you want during the campaign. However, once elected you have to govern, and there comes the challenge. Governing is a whole different ballgame, for people will expect you to get something done and we’ve witnessed how hard that can be.
While running, you can have friends write anonymous blogs and make scandalous claims about your competition. They can hide behind the cloak of darkness, with a bottle of liquid courage before them and the drapes drawn, sitting behind their keyboards.
I’ve watched these last few months as two of these candidates have been victims of these types of attacks, yet none of the other three have chosen to declare their disdain for this type of terrible electronic bullying. Don’t we try to instill in our children that it is more important to maintain our sense of character and integrity, rather that turn our backs of wrongs that are being done to others?
I can’t begin to imagine why anyone would want to place themselves into the position to have their professional or personal reputations assaulted in this manner by those that cower in the darkness and throw mud around.
We know those behind these attacks are not geniuses. Actually, one left his electronic signature on a recent attack made on our paper, my publisher and myself, from that same negative website. The electronic signature doesn’t lie, it was authored by this individual and it calls into question whether many of the other slanderous attacks are authored by him.
Last week the publication Eye on Marco, which is distributed through Bill McMullan, researched the latest anonymous venomous attack on the Coastal Breeze News, our Publisher and myself, and low and behold it was reported that it was authored by no less than Councilor Larry Honig.
Maybe it answers the question as to why three of the others running have stayed silent, not calling out those responsible for these vile attacks on these two gentlemen. The victims of these attacks have been involved in doing positive things within our community and were only seeking to help stabilize a situation within the city that is both an embarrassment to our community and prevents us from moving forward in a positive way.
The three forums which all five candidates participated in did not provide for an adequate opportunity for residents to question any of the candidates regarding the challenges facing our community, and that is not the fault of any of the sponsors, for they tried. The second of the two events sponsored by the Chamber, Board of Realtors and MICA came closest to accomplishing that goal, although all three were very well attended.
The democratic process is one which requires active citizen participation. It requires that voters do their homework and not just listen to their neighbors or even this column. You need to examine each of the candidates and what they have stood for in the past and their accomplishments within the Marco Island community.
You need to ask yourself what plan does each have to guide us beyond the malaise we have found ourselves in these last two years and how best to accomplish that goal. How do we return a sense of civility to our governmental body and to restore the confidence within the staff at city hall, while retaining the quality staff we have and building on that base as we seek new employees to service our residents.
When then candidate Ronald Reagan was running for President against Jimmy Carter he finished one of his last speeches of the campaign by asking the audience, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We might all ask ourselves a similar question as we seek to determine whether we’ll move down a path that moves us forward into the light and a brighter future. The choice is ours, let’s make sure we vote on November 6.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com