Our View: Keep local politics respectful
August 18, 2022
One of the things Sweetwater County — especially Green River — prides itself on is having that small-town vibe and being a close-knit community.
This doesn’t go away during elections. If anything, it becomes even more important.
We want the people who lead us to be our friends and neighbors, people we can pass on the street, people who are active in our community, people we know and trust.
But when it comes to election season, it can be too easy to separate the concept of a candidate from the concept of a human being. We value them being a part of our community when we vote for them, but also act like they’re somehow set apart when they’re running for office.
When they become names on a brightly colored sign and smiling faces on advertisements, it can start to feel like candidates come from a different world. But they don’t.
We have to remember that these people are, in fact, people. This is especially important when we don’t vote for them. When we criticize them, they hear it. Their families hear it. Their children hear it.
As a community and as a voting base, we have to stay respectful. It’s one thing to disagree with a candidate and another thing to attack them personally.
This need for respect also extends to the candidates themselves — perhaps even more so. And this year’s primary election races saw mixed results in terms of respect, with some races being friendly and others becoming heated.
Many people have commented on how friendly the race for mayor of Green River was. Pete Rust and Mark Peterson have run against each other several times now, and even if they disagree with or are sometimes frustrated with one another, they made a commitment to treat each other with respect and not hostility.
Other races during this primary were not so friendly. Some candidates made direct personal attacks against their opponents, while others made thinly veiled jabs. At times candidates engaged in a fight over who was telling the truth, with candidates making accusations their opponents claimed were false.
When candidates are fighting for a leadership position, it’s understandable they want to be seen as the best choice and want to highlight why they are superior to their opponent.
However, when arguments turn into attacks, candidates may see their attempts backfire. Their own lack of respect and self control may prove to voters why they are unfit for a leadership position.
“It’s kinda hard to sling mud and keep your own hands clean,” Jack Bartlett says on the series “Heartland.” This is not the only quote along these lines, but it sums up the concept well.
During this year’s primary election, some candidates got their hands dirty. Thankfully, several candidates tried to stay above the mud.
When the dust from an election settles, we all live and work in this community together — candidates and voters alike.
Let’s keep our close-knit values by respecting each other as human beings and as fellow Sweetwater County citizens.