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A City Council Candidate’s First Misstep

I always encourage candidates for office to blog. I think it’s a great way to get your story out there and keep your potential constituents engaged. I like to point out that when I ran for the State Legislature in 2004, my campaign website (not a blog at the time) had about 750 visits between January 2004 and June 2004. In order to get those visitors, I knocked on hundreds of doors and spent over $20,000 in campaign materials.

The next year, I turned that website into the blog you’re reading today, and between January 2005 and June 2005, I ended up with over 10,000 unique visitors – without spending a single dollar. That’s right, I went from 750 to over 10,000 readers in the same six month period. Today, those numbers are larger, much larger.

Now with all that said, one of the rules a candidate should follow, if they’re going to blog, is to stick to the truth. See, in the blogosphere it is just too easy to be called to task if what you’re trying to do is build a campaign on outright lies.

Here, let me give you an example.

A woman named Paulette de’ Pascal is running in District 4 for Albuquerque City Council. From her bio and her picture, she seems like a nice enough lady, and you have to applaud her decision to blog. As I’ve pointed out, it’s a nice low cost way to communicate, and it will make a great complement to all of the out of pocket expenses she is already able to avoid by opting to run her campaign on the taxpayer’s dime. Not the way I would go, but hey, those are the new rules, so more power to her.

Ms. de’Pascal started out her campaign blog with a nice first post:

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Paulette de’Pascal,
Candidate for City Council, Albuquerque, NM, District 4.
Please feel free to share your issues and concerns with me.
It is my intention to communicate your interests, as your Councilor.
Thank you.

Unfortunately, it took less than a week for Ms. de’Pascal to depart from the niceties and begin to go quickly downhill:

Before I close today’s blog, I’d like to touch on the desire of our current City Councilor who does not agree with our Mayor on lowering the the sales tax. For some of our constituants, a lower tax would mean the difference in the type of bread, milk or cereal they buy, every penny adds up.

Now, I’m not one to have a problem with pointing out an opponent’s record. That’s just part of politics. The problem is that City Councilor Brad Winter, the councilor to whom Ms. de’Pascal is referring, did agree with “our Mayor” on lowering the sales tax. And, I know because I took to task the one Republican Councilor who did not support the tax cut.

I’m also pretty sure that Ms. de’Pascal is aware of Councilor Winter’s actual voting record. After all, the vote and position of all the candidates was very clearly reported in the Albuquerque Journal (subscription):

Craig Loy, Sally Mayer, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter voted against delaying the tax reduction. Voting to delay were Isaac Benton, Michael Cadigan, Don Harris, Martin Heinrich and Debbie O’Malley.

She is probably also aware that it was Councilor Brad Winter that sponsored another 1/8 cent tax cut that went into effect on January of this year. And, I’m sure she knows that Councilor Winter was one of three city councilors to oppose a tax extension championed by “our Mayor” to build a streetcar.

So, what could Ms. de’Pascal possibly be thinking? After all, this does not exactly launch her campaign in the most positive light. Maybe she figured she could leverage the negative and slanderous ads that were recently run by some unknown entity billing themselves as the ‘Citizens for Responsible Budget:”

Why are City Councilors Brad Winter and Don Harris voting to raise out taxes? Good question. Brad Winter and Don Harris ran as fiscal conservatives, promising to cut city spending and taxes. Now they are going back on their word voting against a tax cut and making those campaign promises look like a lot of hot air. City Councilors Brad Winter and Don Harris opposed the tax cut and voted for more spending at a time when Albuquerque’s economy is booming and tax revenues are at record levels. Call Brad Winter and Don Harris at 768-3100. Tell them to keep their word to Albuquerque voters. When candidates Brad Winter and Don Harris said they would cut taxes and spending, was it the truth or just a campaign gimmick? Call Brad Winter and Don Harris at 768-3100. Tell them to hold the line on spending and cut taxes. Remember, Brad and Don, it’s our money, not yours.
Paid for by Citizens for Responsible Budget.

Well, I’m glad to see public funding of campaigns is off to such a great start. Now we, the taxpayers, get to pay for the campaigns in order to leave more money for front groups to spend in slander campaigns. It’s a beautiful new day.