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April 6, 1995

Tuesday's municipal election results surprised some, disappointed others. Obviously some were happy, some were not. Whatever else, it will go down in history as Perry's first non-primary, non-partisan election, and the first with such a crowded field of candidates (six) seeking the office of chief of police.

And despite my fondest hopes, the official ballot carried a typographical error. The official name of the police chiefs' office is "city marshal,' with only one "l," not "city marshall," with two "l's," as the ballot showed. Is that sufficient cause for a recount or something? Probably not, and just as well. I doubt if any of us, especially the candidates, could afford another campaign like we just witnessed.

This one also should go into the books as one of the roughest, no-holds-barred campaigns ever staged in this little city. I talked to one seasoned observer who believes there was more vilification, more slander, more libel on the part of some candidates and their supporters than we have ever had to endure here. Last-minute tactics included some unsigned fliers containing unproven charges that were distributed door to door with no attribution as to the source. The fliers purportedly did not support any particular candidate but they contained accusations of criminal wrongdoing by a city marshal hopeful.

The effect of that kind of material -- anonymous and bearing unsubstantiated accusations -- is usually negative against the originating person, but in this case voters were left to wonder just who distributed them. They were unsigned. Apparently they were intended to resemble legitimate advertising material previously distributed by one of the candidates, but that person disavows any connection with the fliers.

There was also the usual childish vandalism of campaign signs, including mud (literally) smeared on some of them, which may explain where the term "mud slinging" originated. Some signs were simply uprooted or bent over or otherwise rendered unreadable. Tricks like that used to be restricted to high school campaigning.

Only three offices were at stake, but the level of campaigning was extremely high, to put it mildly. Not all of the candidates were involved in the skullduggery, and those who conducted themselves in a seemly manner are to be commended. But let us hope that by the next time municipal elections are held we all will have matured a little and campaigns can be resolved on genuine issues. Leave the trashing strategy to candidates who aspire to other offices, like governor, U.S. senator or president. We've grown accustomed to it there, but it doesn't belong here in Noble county.

With that said, let us congratulate Tuesday's winners, Mayor Bud Hollingsworth, City Marshal Fred LeValley and Council Woman Barbara Cook. All of us should now join hands and work together to achieve the hopes and dreams we share.

We are at that point in time when political differences should be buried and forgotten. The campaigns are over. Our community stands at the crossroad facing a brighter, more prosperous future if the right choices are made. Steps in the wrong direction will only lead down a trail to disaster. Eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive, as the old Johnny Mercer tune tells us. Here's hoping all of the bitterness is past and we can now get back to a unified effort to continue building this blessed little community.