GOP campaigning in Westerlo is unethical

To the Editor:

This opinion is being written to express dismay with the unethical activities and campaigning practices of the Westerlo Republican Party. Some factual examples follow:

— Flagrant and unethical use of the Westerlo town seal.Why is the Westerlo town seal being used on the Republican Facebook page, Republican flyers, and announcements for other Republican town-sponsored events? Do any of the other town volunteer organizations represent themselves using the sacred town of Westerlo seal, for example, the rescue squad, fire department, museum, etc.?;

— Use of the non-partisan environment of the Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company breakfast to post the Republican caucus notice. Then, at another monthly breakfast, distributing the nominated Republican candidate’s information and goals, one of which is about ethics!

This is unethical and illegal according to the fire department bylaws. This fact was reiterated by Kelley Keefe, president of the fire department, at the May board meeting. If the Westerlo Republican Party cannot run an ethical campaign, how can it promote ethics in government

Moreover, two prominent Republicans leaders, Richard and Betty Filkins, are also active volunteers in the Westerlo Fire Department. So, turning blind eyes is no justification for the flagrant campaign abuses! Fire department volunteers should not have to police non-partisan fundraising events or answer for Republicans ignoring the department bylaws;

— Promotion of candidates as the only town of Westerlo candidates not as the town of Westerlo Republican candidates. This is very obvious on printed material, event flyers, and notices. By using the town seal and saying “town candidates,” are the Republicans trying to con residents into thinking they are the only candidates running?

Westerlo residents and Altamont Enterprise readers, please take note there are many other volunteer candidates running for this November’s Westerlo town elections; and

— Lastly, announcement of Albany County veterans’ services at a well publicized Republican “Meet and Greet” to gain attendees, spending money to produce flyers distributed around Westerlo, and with all of the Republican candidates colorfully and boldly noted  as contacts

How many Republican contact names and numbers are necessary to express: Albany County Veteran Services, every Tuesday, Westerlo Reformed Church, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.?

In reality, Ken Secor and associates of Albany County Veterans Bureau (credited in small print at the very bottom of the published flyer) are the principal providers of the veteran services information and assistance. Perhap the idea did originate in conjunction with a Hometown Heroes-related event attendance.

Moreover, all Westerlo veterans and residents do appreciate the efforts to arrange this service, but did it require all of the Republican candidates to accomplish this project? Does it demonstrate individual and independent abilities required as possible future town board representatives/staff?

Should it have been done through Catholic Charities or as another town-sponsored Hometown Heroes project to remove political under/over tones for veterans of all parties? If it were totally veteran-related and non-political, why was this program’s original announcement used for Republican Facebook photo opportunities and candidate-enhancement postings?

Ethically and legally, should candidates or their leader, Lisa DeGroff, misrepresent themselves and/or participate and function thusly?

In this writer’s opinion, the most qualified candidates for the town of Westerlo’s upcoming election will be those who can demonstrate their overall town successes, past and present, and their ability to perform required duties ethically and legally.

If volunteering as a freshman candidate, how do your skills exceed those possessed by others? Shouldn’t the better-qualified and reputable candidate, regardless of party, receive the most votes on the November ballot? Why do the Republicans feel the need to grandstand and run a popularity contest?   

Barbara L. Russell


Editor’s note: See related story.

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