Panel hears candidate's complaints in Ballston council race
A hotly-contested Town of Ballston Council race that began with the larger issues big-box development, preserving a rural flavor, attracting a grocery store has, in its final four days before elections, boiled down to the smaller issues of semantics and interpretation.
Friday night, a 5-member panel of the League of Women Voters (LWV) convened to review two complaints lodged this week by Patti Southworth, who is running on the Democratic-Independent- Working party line, against her opponent Mary Beth Hynes, the Republican incumbent on the Town of Ballston Town Board. In her lengthy complaint, Southworth contends two recent mailings from the Hynes campaign have violated rules for Fair Campaign Practices set by the LWV.
Fair Campaign Practices were enacted to assure candidates conduct honest and issue oriented campaigns, be open and fair, refrain from defamatory or misleading attacks on the character of their opponents, and not use campaign materials that distort the facts.
For two minutes Friday night, representatives for each candidate addressed the panel with the two mailings under scrutiny in hand.
"The entire piece is comprised of distortions, misleading statements, and undermines the very spirit of fairness we find so important," said Jordan Baugh on behalf of Southworth. "It's full of false insinuations."
"Our mailings are honest and Mary Beth chose her statements carefully," said Ann Crowell, Saratoga County Campaign chair, representing Hynes. "There has been harsh language from both sides, but we've said nothing untruthful or unethical. When people are running for office, anything is subject to interpretation."
The panel, chaired by Jim Miller, questioned both speakers about their interpretations of the words "record," "promise," "debate" and "accountability," all used on the mailings.
One of the statements in question in the flyer was that Southworth broke a promise of accountability when she attended another function earlier this month rather than the LWV sponsored Meet the Candidates night.