Lock, Stock and Veiled Threats

I stared at the second page of our local paper in disbelief.  There it was, my name, my full name.  Not mentioned in an article about how the four of us had gone to an information session to learn how to be a good board of education member, or how we’d met with the chair of the town next door’s board to learn how he won an award for transparency in his work, no.  We’d been working hard to run an honest, traditional campaign.  Not only to clear the negativity brought about by a recent trumped up campaign complaint against us, but because we truly believed that board members should have a responsibility to know how to do their jobs and do them well.

No, this campaign advertisement singled me out specifically of the four of us running for our local board of education.  I knew it would happen at some point, because I’d filed my own complaint against the strange ads put out in budget season last year.  It had bothered me greatly that anyone could put anything they wanted in our local newspaper, commentary that would never be allowed to go unsigned on the letters to the editor page, as long as they paid for ad space to do it. It turned out that the idea not only bothered me, but it bothered the state elections enforcement commission too, because it was against the law to do so. I didn’t want that kind of thing to happen again, not during this election season or next year’s budget season, so I’d filed the complaint to ensure that it didn’t.

I knew very well the person behind the ad; when I’d called the paper’s advertising department last year they’d told me her name.  She was a big anti tax advocate in our town who had spoken out against our budget advocacy group during the two budget seasons we’d been active.  The ads last spring had been angry and tried to pit the old time town residents against the newer, more “Fairfield County” ones, such as myself.  People like me who’d moved here for proximity to lucrative corporate jobs, who’d expected high quality education in a lovely, bucolic setting.  The old timers were tired of seeing their property values rise and their taxes right along with them.  My friends and I talked at length about the growing divide in our town and how to bridge it.  We were trying to work that angle in our campaign.

But still, even with all the past anger that I knew would come to light during my own campaign, I never expected such an angry, personal, public tirade against myself.  The person who called themselves a “Concerned Citizen” (how were they getting away with this when it was illegal, I wondered) labeled me as a “pro property tax increase” (true, but only because I wasn’t sitting on the board to find cuts to reduce the tax increases), “democrat” (lower case d, but also true), a “hypocrite” (I didn’t think so, actually), “vengeful” (really was pretty sure this wasn’t true), and warned against having such a nefarious character helping formulate the budgets that would eventually affect every town resident’s wallet.

But the worst part of all the stuff in the ad that I could probably have written off if it had been signed by the looney tune who’d written it (as could everyone else in town as they all knew her name as a known lunatic) was the attribution at the bottom.  The lack of attribution had been the basis of my previous complaint, and it was clear that this was a clear slap in my face for having complained about it not being on her previous ads.  It was at best a tasteless “right back at you”, and at worst, a veiled threat.

“This ad paid for Lock, Stock and Smoking Barrel by the Concerned Citizens.”

I put down the paper and sighed.  I didn’t know if I had a thick enough skin for this politics business.


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