The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Chip Minemyer

November 6, 2011

Chip Minemyer | Hold candidates' detractors to the same standard of integrity

— A week ago on this page, we published our endorsement editorials on the commissioners’ races in both Somerset and Cambria counties.

We developed our opinions through our paper’s reporting on the various candidates, and based largely on our interviews with each of the four candidates in both counties.

Just as we’ve done election after election for years.

As we always say, you can embrace our views or dismiss them. Certainly, that’s your call.

But you’ll always know who we are when we support or reject a candidate. Our names are right there at the top of the page.

That’s not true of everyone who would like to have an impact on this year’s elections, as the anonymous and unidentified have attempted to shanghai local races and subvert the open political process.

Yes, the cesspool of national politics has seeped into our midst, and spineless vermin have crawled forth – looking to leave filthy footprints across the landscape.

Don’t let them.

Our system of electing our representatives is the best in the world because those who would hold office must first face the citizenry.

This holds true in every race, from dog-catcher to president of the United States.

The candidates for those county commissioners’ offices have sat at the fronts of many rooms and answered your numerous questions.

They have attended community festivals and chicken dinners, talking with potential voters and offering their thoughts on how things ought to be.

Shoulder to shoulder, they spoke at public forums and challenged each other at debates.

They have not always agreed with one another.

But they have all agreed to be part of a system that makes candidates stand in the spotlight before they have a chance to sit in office.

Some candidates drew public ire because of their willingness to be critical. But that criticism was done in the open, the critics standing beside their statements.

The contenders for various offices – from school districts to municipalities – did interviews with our reporters and with other area media.

They ran advertisements – sometimes slinging mud but always showing their names or faces.

If you yearned to know their platforms, their beliefs, their personalities – you had that chance.

And then there are those who would like to manipulate the system from behind the curtain.

This fall, they’ve used communications systems both old and new.

Some have stuffed our mailboxes with disjointed rants and character assassinations – aimed at both the candidates and the media outlets that cover them.

Others have spread their diseases from the protection of cyberspace, posting venomous attacks on websites – at times attempting to disguise their disparagements as “news.”

They have assailed candidates and current officeholders with a litany of rumor-driven garbage, offering no proof and nothing resembling ideas for making our world better.

And all without telling you who they are.

Or ­– just as importantly – whom they represent.

Their decisions to withhold their identities is at best gutless and at worst dishonest.

On Tuesday, many of you will go to your polling places and make very important decisions.

You will choose to endorse the actions of your current public officials, or you will call them out by putting a check mark beside the name of someone new.

You have the power to reject those whose ideals don’t fall in line with your own.

The candidates must stand before you, identify themselves and tell you what they think.

Why should their detractors be any different?

Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5091.

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