Sorting out the falsehoods of campaigns
To the Editor:
When we watch the news on TV, it often feels like we're getting hit with a tornado of half-truths, smears, and outright lies. We have little control over what goes on nationally, but we can send a message locally here in Warwick. Ask yourself: what “should” politics and campaigning look like?
Politics isn't a game. It's about representing the people and working together to accomplish their goals. Who we elect and how they conduct themselves have real consequences. That's why I support David Bennett and ask you to join me in rejecting the falsehoods and smears that have been put out against David and my colleagues on the City Council.
I met David Bennett nine years ago. I was impressed from the start: I didn't expect we'd connect as we did, as a then-22-year-old speaking with someone over twice my age. David has wisdom behind his casual appearance and carefree smile. When he's not wearing a suit at the Statehouse, or at work as a psychiatric nurse, he's often wearing one of his Hawaiian shirts.
David is a family man. I see how much David loves his family: how he glows when talking about his daughter and granddaughter, and how he hurts when talking about his wife's battle with cancer. David was there for me too, from those days when I was at RIC, to when I was deciding whether to go to law school or run for City Council. Even now that I have my own law practice and represent the people of Ward 2 (Norwood, Lakewood, Pilgrim) on the City Council, he's always there for me. David is more than a mentor; I'm proud to call David my friend.
I became David's campaign manager in his 2010 run for State Rep. It was my first time being so involved in a local race. And when David's opponent went negative, we stayed focused on our positive message. We won that State Rep race in 2010, but, it's not just about winning or losing, it's about how you campaign.
David Bennett's opponent, Dan Elliott, has misled some to believe that I support him. On Primary Day, September 12, 2018, I was shocked to see that Mr. Elliott posted on his personal Facebook page a faked picture of me holding a Dan Elliott sign along with my own. The real picture – taken that same day – shows me holding a David Bennett sign next to my own. Some voters who know about my support for David Bennett were confused, asking why Mr. Elliott's sign was with mine. Others have asked me whether I'm a friend of or support Mr. Elliott, as they were apparently told so when Mr. Elliott came to their doors.
Mr. Elliott flattered me in a comment on that post, saying that "Jeremy Rix is a great guy. Together, the three of us will make a great team in Norwood!" Inside an hour, I responded, "Thank you for your kind words, Dan Elliott. I would of course work with you if you win. But until then, I should point out that I was actually holding a David Bennett sign in that picture."
Yet the picture stayed up. A few days later, I was polite but more direct in asking for the picture to be taken down. While Mr. Elliott did not comply or reply, an apparent supporter of his did, telling me "It's Your job to let people know who you support, NOT dan Elliott's." [sic] That's why I'm writing this letter and reaching out to voters. But, isn't it Mr. Elliott's job to NOT tell lies about me?
After three days of Mr. Elliott ignoring my simple request, I filed a
complaint with the Board of Elections. I have never filed a complaint with the Board of Elections before, and honestly don't know how they handle issues like this. I've never heard of any local candidate altering a picture to fake an endorsement. I just want the picture to be taken down and for Mr. Elliott to run a clean campaign.
Unfortunately, such odd behavior is not new. On multiple occasions, he has used his Facebook page to attack and insult each of the four City Council members who overlap with District 20. Last July, I sent Mr. Elliott a private message explaining why I thought his attacks on my colleagues and me were untruthful and misleading. Mr. Elliott did not get back to me.
Mr. Elliott seems to campaign by tearing other people down. Warwick politics should be known for sincere debates about ideas and honest
discussion of performance, not Facebook antics and deception.
*Honesty* matters. *Respect* matters. That's why I'm writing this letter: to explain why I am proud to call David Bennett my friend and support him for State Rep, District 20.
David has compassion and integrity. He is honest, sincere, and hardworking. David does an excellent job representing us as a State Rep., especially as he is only one of two healthcare professionals elected to the General Assembly. From his background as a Registered Nurse, he introduced important health-related bills, from a law putting Narcan in the schools statewide (which were used over a dozen times last year to save lives), to a bill that passed the House unanimously to allow children to use sunscreen at school recess or gym with the note of a parent or guardian. Without this, many schools require that students have a doctor's note for sunscreen.
David's leadership has gone beyond healthcare-related bills. He fought for raising the minimum wage from his first year in office, before the issue hit the headlines. He introduced each bill to raise the minimum wage in the House, and succeeded in having the minimum wage raised from $7.40 (where it had been since 2007) to $10.50 as of January 1, 2019. David is a strong advocate for working people and seniors, fighting for new laws that let over 100,000 RI employees take sick time, improve pay for caregivers, and, phase out the car tax.
This is the power of working together. David is respectful to the people he serves and to his colleagues. David and I have worked together on many issues: because of his reputation for honesty, sincerity, and integrity; because he is hardworking; and because he approaches people with respect and compassion, he's able to get results when others cannot.
This is why I support my friend, David Bennett. I encourage voters to please consider his candidacy, and, I encourage others running for office to follow his example.
Member, Warwick City Council, Ward 2