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Clark’s warnings followed a testy budget debate in 2018 focused on changes to waste collection, during which several councillors suggested the tone took a nasty turn and had become inappropriate.
Nobody wants the personal attacks that feature so prominently in American politics, particularly over the last four years, but sometimes that’s a matter of perception, too.
While it’s unfortunate that social media has added a toxic element to campaigns, the anonymous Twitter trolls wield far less power than they think they do.
Clark’s warning about the politics of fear can also be seen as a scare tactic since nobody wants to see campaigns deteriorate to that sad depth.
So far in this campaign, there’s been nothing as inflammatory as 2016 challenger Kelley Moore’s Facebook post days before the vote that Atchison and Clark had their hands in the “public cookie jar for years.” Moore apologized and eventually finished third.
There’s always the potential for the current mayoral campaign to turn nasty and get personal, as it promises to be a tight race with three prominent candidates in Clark, Norris and Atchison.
The lesser known candidates — Shiekh, Tarasoff and Zielke — will feel increasing pressure to attract attention, and that could also lead to questionable tactics.
The seven weeks remaining until the Nov. 9 vote can be a long time in politics, and a lot can change.
Four years ago, Atchison was asked whether he thought Clark’s criticism of him had crossed a line.
His response should serve as a reminder for any candidates who intend to stoop to questionable tactics to achieve an upper hand: “I guess the electorate will decide that in the end.”
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