Our View: local campaign spats

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:30 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

In the Top of Utah, some smaller campaign races have attracted some controversy this year due to campaign spats, some of which have seen arguments, and accusations broadcast through social media.

Attacking one’s political opponent, or launching a salvo against a political group, is nothing new in American politics, local or otherwise. And attacking via social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, or other platforms, is a preferred option in these times.

The rules for waging tough political campaigns never change: Be honest and be responsible. If those rules are not followed, then the accusers merit universal condemnation and disgust. And that’s one potential pitfall of waging vicious online campaigns. What’s posted online usually stays there forever, even if the accuser tries to delete the misplaced slam later.

In West Point, a defeated primary city council candidate is taking his concerns to YouTube, posting a video alleging a corrupt system in his run for the council. City officials deny his claim. Davis County, long a haven for political spats, has its share again this year, including in Kaysville, Layton, and Sunset.

In Weber County, there has been rancor in campaigns in Uintah and North Ogden. In the latter case, old emails sent by one councilman — hurling incorrect charges against another councilman — have come back to haunt the sender, particularly since both are candidates for mayor this fall.

Some believe that the national political scene influences local elections. Gary Johnson, associate professor in Weber State University’s political science department, says that the coarsening of national political debate filters into state and local races.

Social media can certainly be a tool for candidates to gather groups of supporters, get messages out, and attack opponents. But its use requires care, and no mercy is provided if one makes a big online goof.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.