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In Summit, Character is on the Ballot.

There have recently been calls for “civility” as we approach the November election. We couldn’t agree more with this intention. Unfortunately, the Summit Republicans have been doing their best to sow discord and confusion among voters, creating issues where there are none, and enlisting their supporters—some of whom are the very people calling for civility—to spread their divisive messaging. The truth is that the only character assassination in this year’s election has been self-inflicted, and the division is coming from the people complaining about it.

None of this should come as any surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the last several years. The head of the Summit Republicans has been using this playbook for awhile now. It started back in 2017 when he was the manager for a local Republican campaign and was caught plagiarizing the statement of a Westfield Democratic candidate for office, even down to the number of exclamation points and semicolons. When called on this transgression at the time, he released a statement that was a word salad of cynicism and lack of accountability. He called his plagiarism simply, “ eerie resemblance” and basically claimed that in essence, everyone cheats. Is this the kind of person you want representing you on our Common Council?

Fast-forward a few years later and that same person is now a current Republican candidate for Summit Common Council. Is he running his campaign with more transparency and honesty than the campaign he managed back in 2017? Sadly, no. A few days after the January 6th Insurrection that almost destroyed our democratic republic, this Summit Republican candidate took a screenshot of one of our founder’s comments, which she posted on her own Facebook page, in response to the Insurrection. Even worse than the fact that he felt he had the right to encroach upon someone’s private Facebook page, was what he did next. The Republican candidate proceeded to embed that screenshot into a mass email that he sent out to the full Summit Republicans membership—with her name and photo attached—not only attempting to sow partisan division and anger among his membership, but actually trying to fundraise for the Summit Republicans off of it. So while he continues to pound the table with his assertion that his candidacy is “all about local,” it’s this candidate himself who tried to use a private citizen’s righteous outrage over a traumatic national event in order to fund his local aspirations.

All these months later, that screenshot of one of our founders’ comments—a shocked American’s response to the near coup that almost took down our democratic republic—is still circulating among the Republican candidate’s supporters. In fact, just the other day, one of his supporters—a former Board of Education President—reposted that same screenshot in a local social media group, saying she was attempting to “warn” people about the “lovely founders'' of our group, Summit Marches On.

The fear-mongering and attempts at division continues unabated, and everywhere. A quick visit to any of the Summit “community” groups on Facebook will result in a barrage of posts by Republican supporters trying to create false narratives around local issues and initiatives. They claim that Broad Street West is some sort of “backroom deal” when the truth is that Council wisely took control of the project—instead of just selling off the property to a private developer—and opened it up to public comment and input all along the way. They claim that they all suddenly support the idea of Full Day Kindergarten and promise not to roll it back despite the fact that every single Republican in leadership in Summit fought against it for more than a decade. They make false claims that Summit is somehow not safe anymore, when statistics show that we are one of the safest places to live in NJ. They complain—falsely— that their taxes increased when in reality, the property tax bill for almost every single Summit homeowner has decreased this year. And they take money from wealthy, well-known Trump supporters that enable them to barrage you with postcards and ads spreading division and downright lies.

Character is on the ballot. And Summit deserves better. Who we elect will have the opportunity to shape Summit for at least the next few years. Please consider the above, and think of our community when you vote.

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