City Council campaigns in recent years have sometimes produced negative, unfair, and unethical practices that many in our community find objectionable. One of the worst consequences of such conduct is the reluctance of some promising potential candidates to throw their hats in the ring.
Our first draft editorial commended our three candidates for honoring their signed pledge to conduct fair and ethical campaigns, but just before we went to the printer things went awry. Candidate Quirk and a surrogate newsletter from unnamed sources descended into dirty campaign territory. In a coordinated attack both parties resorted to clearly distorted facts against incumbent Mayor Worden. This despite Quirk’s signature on a pledge to not engage in “election campaign conduct that is objectively unfair, untruthful, or misleading regarding the positions or character of candidates seeking office…denying the electorate an opportunity to make fully informed decision on candidates…such campaign conduct is unfair and unethical.”
Quirk and surrogates are contorting facts to intentionally misrepresent Mayor Worden’s actions and intentions. The newsletter uses a technique well known in dirty campaigns of combining facts and non-facts in a format that uses numbers, percentages, quotes, dates, graphs, and charts to give the appearance of researched information—but in reality disguises its real intent of attributing grossly misleading actions to Mayor Worden. This conduct is reprehensible and insulting to the intelligence of voters and the integrity of our community.
We choose not to repeat these fabrications here but state simple truths about Worden’s actions and positions that they are misrepresenting.
These are only a few instances of misrepresentations about Worden but enough to illustrate how nefarious this kind of campaign warfare is. We deserve better.
It is sad that our small town must endure the kind of ugly electoral behavior that seems to be proliferating in our country. Both California and the city of Del Mar have adopted codes of conduct to encourage ethical behavior in election campaigns but the ultimate responsibility rests with candidates. Maybe the real final authority rests with the voters.
Two quotes from the California and Del Mar laws summarize what is at stake; California Code 20440: “There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play which every candidate for public office in the State of California has a moral obligation to observe and uphold in order that, after vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaigns, citizens may exercise their constitutional right to a free and untrammeled choice, and the will of the people may be fully and clearly expressed….”
Del Mar Policy 108: “unfair and unethical campaign conduct promotes cynicism and distrust on the part of the electorate toward its representative government, and damages the ability of elected representatives to govern effectively.”