Conflict and condemnation are as inevitable in politics as are death and taxes in everyday life, so what can we do to change that?

I believe the honest answer is that politics will never be without conflict and condemnation, which means that all of us participating in city affairs must responsibly exercise civility and respect for those we disagree with and allow dissention to be fairly debated. That is the intended spirit of Democracy laid out clearly by our nation’s founding fathers.

Dissention and conflict are a given in politics, but it seems in this current age of social media to have taken a on an unbridled fierceness at the touch of a smart phone where attacks are intensified as never before. This recent special election to fill the District One Council seat left vacant by our late Mayor Greg Pettis quickly took on a particularly mean-spirited tone in opposition of former Council Member Shelly Kaplan by slandering his character and the character of his spouse.

My only engagement with Councilmember-Elect Rita Lamb was a brief conversation we had in the Council Chambers lobby where she introduced herself to me. I offered some friendly advice to keep her message simple and honest and ended by wishing her good luck. She struck me as a very sincere person by her kind manner, so I decided that night to give her the benefit of the doubt that she’d make a good candidate.

What came to worry me in the weeks that followed that pleasant exchange was the barrage of pointed attacks that her handlers directed at Shelley Kaplan. These were attacks, based on comments taken out of context, twisted or otherwise totally fabricated Candidate Rita Lamb chose to condone by remaining silent throughout the campaign.

A win by 3% is hardly a mandate and will remain a slim enough margin to allow a question of legitimacy. As Councilmember-Elect Rita Lamb rarely spoke on her own behalf, we’ll never really know how much of her influence as a sitting Councilmember is truly her and how much will be that of her handlers who will no doubt remain active in shaping her agenda just as much as they shaped her campaign.

I once wished Councilmember-Elect Rita Lamb good luck in her campaign when we shared that one-time conversation in the lobby where she struck me as a kind and sincere person. My advice to her now is to be true to herself and follow her own instincts as a Councilmember and leave her campaign handlers to voice their opinions on their own at City Council — and not through her.

Councilmember-Elect Rita Lamb, be yourself and forge your own way in your short term. Follow the example of Councilmember Raymond Gregory who as a first-time member has boldly made his mark as an independent voice.

2020 is right around the corner and if former Councilmember Shelley Kaplan, whom I continue to support, should decide to run again, he’ll be a far more formidable opponent in a general election.

Image Sources

  • Conflict: Shutterstock