As many of you know, I have spent a lot of time during the last 30 years or so, working on and supporting campaigns. It started in 1984, when my husband Phil ran for Milwaukee County Commission. With little support or experience, we ran a campaign the old fashioned way: going to door-to-door throughout the county with a POSITIVE message. And we came within a handful of votes to force a run-off. Over the years, we have worked on or managed many campaigns, from the local and state levels, to Congressional levels, to being named State Coordinators in 1988 for a Presidential Candidate. After moving to Florida in late 1988, we took several years away from politics to settle in and raise our young family. But we NEVER stopped paying attention.
Over the years, we have watched as political campaigns, on ALL levels go from positive messages and substantive discussion on the issues, to increasingly negative and nasty attack ads, where we find ourselves today. I am unabashedly and perhaps naively, a campaign purist. As a candidate for Apopka City Commissioner myself in 2010, both myself and my opponent, Commissioner Billy Dean, ran positive campaigns. We stuck to the issues and stayed as cordial as two opponents in a campaign could be. THAT is the way campaigns should be run.
I believe firmly in several unofficial rules of campaigning. ONE – Politics is NOT personal, and candidates must strive to keep that in mind as this belief will determine your entire campaign plan. TWO – candidates must campaign as if they are the ONLY person in that race. NEVER attack your opponent. Campaign with tunnel vision, talking ONLY about yourself and either YOUR record as the incumbent, or what YOU can bring to the office you are seeking if you are the challenger. THREE – never antagonize potential supporters or voters by attacking them, scolding them, or assuming the worst of them. Even if I do not support your candidacy, remember, IT IS NOT PERSONAL! I am entitled to my opinion and to support whom I want without being challenged or personally attacked. FOUR – and this goes along with Rule TWO – if you are a challenger, NEVER run on your opponent’s records, run ONLY on your own record or your own merits, and what YOU will bring to the office if you are elected.
In addition to the Florida Presidential Primary this Tuesday March 15th, Apopka voters will be electing Commissioners for Seats 3 and 4 on the City Commissioner. While the Seat 3 race has been, for the most part, cordial and issues-oriented, the Seat 4 race has begun to sink to the level of attack mode. Campaign pieces mailed out have become increasingly negative and the forum held Thursday night devolved disappointingly, into a bit of attack mode, on the part of all three candidates.
We are human and sometimes in contested campaigns, emotions and temperament take the place of reason and issues. But we must strive for civility in our campaigns, for respect, for issues-oriented speech and ads. We all, including me, must keep these rules in mind. Attacks have no place in our campaigns, from the Presidential right down to our local campaigns. American citizens, Apopka Citizens are looking for leaders right now, people who can stay focused on and articulate their stand on the issues and maintain a positive message. We are looking for people who can campaign on their record, or merits, without resorting to attacks. Just one more thing, as we work to support our candidates, by going door-to-door, making phone calls, waving signs, or donating money, remember as voters, we have two even more important jobs. Thoroughly research each candidate and their stands on the issues that matter to you. After that, remember to VOTE for your candidate, using your head and not your heart or connections to that candidate. Apopka deserves nothing but the best.