As a newspaper publisher and journalist, I believe that the media’s job is to accurately report facts about candidates in an effort to educate voters to make informed decisions.
Each election cycle, we are approached by candidates and their supporters to “expose” some game-changing information that almost never is true or accurate, just their supposition or hope to help their chosen candidate win the election.
Over the past few years, I have watched as over-zealous campaigns spread lies, harassed opponents and public officials, and formed at least one Political Action Committee posing as an unbiased, community civic group.
All of these individuals have the right to do what they wish, but I will not subject our readers to “gotcha” stories, innuendo and propaganda.
So, as much as I believe in keeping the newspaper out of politics, I feel I must speak out on the recent decision by a select few leadership members of the Republican Party of Kerr County organization to endorse Roman Garcia for Kerrville City Council Place 1 over opponent Mary Ellen Summerlin, who has been endorsed by Place 1 incumbent Gary Cochrane and Place 2 incumbent Councilperson Kim Clarkson.
As soon as the Republican Party Kerr County endorsement was made public, our phones began ringing with long-time Republican residents enraged over the choice for Republican Party Kerr County Chair John Elliott to allow and participate in such an endorsement in a nonpartisan race without including the wishes of all members of the Republican party living in Kerr County, and paying for the ad with money donated by local Republicans not consulted.
The City of Kerrville charter specifically requires that national party affiliation (Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.) not be a factor or promoted in its elections, so the wishes of John Elliott and those that facilitated such an endorsement are not applicable and should not have happened.
Most importantly, as chair, Elliott obviously did not represent the wishes of all members of the local Republican party when he chose to put the Republican stamp on a candidate that many feel is not qualified for the position, according to the phone calls we received. These types of actions only serve to fracture once-cohesive organizations.
The anger and hate displayed in national politics is exhausting and has no business in Kerr County and City of Kerrville elections, but some individuals are choosing to use that hate and disgust to win local elections.
An example of what I am talking about appeared this weekend on the Hill Country Community Journal social media page. We reported that Mary Ellen Summerlin called out Roman Garcia during a candidate forum for an “attack ad” placed against her in this very newspaper.
In the comments on the Journal’s social media post reporting the story, a woman referred to herself as a “Trump-Supporting Republican,” who is voting for Mary Ellen Summerlin.
To which a Garcia supporter replied “(You are) not a Republican if you support Mary Ellen.”
I am constantly surprised at the actions of local individuals on social media … how they can be so judgmental and rude to someone who is their neighbor, but this floored me.
What right does one individual have to try strip someone of their long-held beliefs, just because they choose to vote another way in a non-partisan election. None.
And, what right does John Elliott and a select few activist Republicans have to speak for all registered Kerr County Republicans. None.
To our readers living in the City of Kerrville, I encourage you to educate yourself on the qualifications of each candidate. I urge you to look past any campaign rhetoric or sensational campaign ad or action from either side and choose a candidate based on your own opinion, whomever that may be.
It is not my job to tell you who to vote for, but I do believe it is my job to call out the facts; and the facts in this case are that seven Republicans standing with Roman Garcia in a campaign ad does not mean that all Republicans endorse him.
Early voting began on Monday and continues through April 27. Election day for the City of Kerrville Municipal Election is May 1.