Editorial: Why we invited a write-in candidate to the mayoral forum

  • From left, Brickett Allis, Sheila Gilmour and Roxann Wedegartner at a mayoral forum broadcasted from the GCTV studio in August. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 9/28/2019 7:17:27 AM

Politics can get awfully personal. That appears to be the case for many people who disagree with the Greenfield Recorder’s decision to invite Brickett Allis, a write-in candidate, to its mayoral debate.

The newspaper has received a number of complaints, among them that many said we are dismissing the results of the preliminary election and disrespecting the city’s electoral process.

Yes, we acknowledge that Roxann Wedegartner and Sheila Gilmour, as the top vote-getters, deserve to have their names on the ballot of the general election. Wedegartner received 1,236 votes and Gilmour, 1,011.

Allis, who came in third with 957, does not.

But then Allis decided he wasn’t giving up. Certainly, there has been precedence for a successful write-in campaign in Greenfield. After all, William Martin, the city’s current mayor, won that way in a preliminary election.

We imagine many who support either Wedegartner or Gilmour for mayor are understandably dismayed by this development.

Likewise, we surmise that it is these candidates’ supporters who are upset the Recorder invited Allis to the Oct. 7 debate.

We respect their opinion but would like to address some of the critical comments.

Among them, the paper has been accused of trying to create more drama in this election — as if there wasn’t enough already. We will state for the record that wasn’t our intention.

We’ve even heard of complaints that this was a sexist decision because two women were running, so a man had to be included, a curious and incorrect assumption considering the decision was made by the editor-in-chief, who is female.

As for the financial cost of holding a preliminary election, this most recent one also had to determine which four candidates — out of the five running — would be on the ballot for two open At-Large City Council slots.

A few readers have demanded we disinvite Allis.

We will not oblige.

Allis only lost by 54 votes. And pretending he is not a viable candidate will not make him go away, especially with his supporters.

And to be clear, this invite is not an endorsement. We will be doing that closer to the Nov. 5 general election after meeting with the candidates and considering their records.

So, here’s the question: Does a write-in candidate merit an invite to a political event organized by a community newspaper?

We say yes in the spirit of inclusion and fairness.

Frankly, we are surprised that people who we imagine crave those qualities for their community would criticize the Recorder for using them in this decision.

It was not our intention to disrespect the city’s electoral process but to acknowledge the democratic one, in which a candidate can conduct a write-in campaign even if he or she lost in the preliminary election. We would have extended the invite if one of the other mayoral candidates had lost in the preliminary and decided to run as a write-in.

The Recorder’s mission is to provide news coverage, so people can make informed decisions about their community. That includes holding public events such as the City Council forum, which is Oct. 2, and the mayoral debate, Oct. 7, both of which will be aired live on GCTV.

We suspect supporters of the other two candidates may be worried Allis’ renewed campaign could be a winning one. If so, we urge them to work for their candidates — and to vote. After all, the preliminary election only drew 26 percent of the registered voters.

Certainly, it will be the voters who decide which candidate will be the next mayor of Greenfield and not this newspaper.


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