Let this be your warning. In a few short weeks, you, the citizens of Battle Creek, will go to the polls and elect a new City Commission. Expect to find in your mailboxes and on your radio airwaves, misleading ads and statements that viciously attack one candidate or another. That is what politics in Calhoun County has come to. If you want that to stop, you must not listen to them. Make up your own mind as to the merits of each and every candidate and ignore the personal attacks made by power hungry neophytes who get more satisfaction out of winning elections than doing the right thing.
If you recall, before the November 2005 City Commission race, the Calhoun County Democratic Party and even the Michigan Democratic Party poured tens of thousands of dollars into radio ads and mailings that trashed several different candidates. This was unprecedented. In a matter of days, this once non-partisan election became a bloody political battle ground, no longing holding sacred the spirit of local political discourse. Instead, politicos from Lansing, who I doubt had the best interests of Battle Creek in mind, were suddenly trying to persuade you that some of most committed activists in our city were suddenly monsters. During that campaign, there was no talk about the issues of violence or jobs or of education. Instead, there were attacks after attacks after attacks. Have they no shame? In addition, the money that funded these attacks came from questionable sources, resulting in an official investigation by the Michigan Bureau of Charitable Gaming that is entering its 14th month with no resolution in sight.
You might also recall the election just last November for Trustee of Kellogg Community College. During that race as well, money from unknown sources was spent on behalf of several candidates, crossing the line of civic responsibility and plunging us into the depths of partisan shenanigans. In fact, many local candidates had to refund several contributions because they were ILLEGAL. That’s right – ILLEGAL. One candidate in that race, Jon Byrd, received almost half of his contributions from people who live OUTSIDE of Calhoun County. Were the best interests of Kellogg Community College at the fore during that campaign? I think not.
Is there any reason to expect a different campaign in 2007? The answer is no. Already there have been phone calls made into various parts of the city attacking one candidate or the other. I can guarantee you that the Calhoun County Republican Party and the Michigan Republican Party have not participated in these types of campaign tactics in Battle Creek – and will not. However, others who practice politics in Calhoun County have a track record of using this lowest form of political discourse to pave their way to victory, and I expect it to get much worse in the weeks to come.
So let this be your warning. Expect the vicious, negative, and irresponsible attacks to continue in the weeks to come. Expect your mailboxes and your radios to be polluted by statements that poison our political discourse rather than enhance it. Expect those that are more interested in winning an election than in doing the right thing, to do so at all costs - with no restraint and at times, with no conscious. But you don’t have to listen. Let this be your warning.