Thick Skin Needed

We congratulate all of the citizens who chose to stand for election March 11. It takes quite a bit of intestinal fortitude to put yourself out there in front of every resident and offer yourself up for election.

We’ve noted in the past how unpleasant some of our towns’ boards can be, with backbiting and sniping and downright nastiness, rather than a polite expression of views and the normal disagreements among gentlemen and ladies.

We’ve also noted that serving on a board takes time, commitment and a thick skin. Most of us like to complain. Few of us actually choose to do something about what upsets us. People who pursue elected office put themselves in position to make that leap, and we thank them for it.

And we want to acknowledge everyone who took time from their busy schedule to participate by voting.

But this election took a little more of an ugly turn in a few cases. YouTube videos concerning one of the Derry Town Council races may have brought viewers a chuckle at one of the candidate’s expense, but they were nothing if not mean. And of course, they were anonymous.

Londonderry blogs were filled with – again anonymous – attacks on candidates. It’s so easy to say anything you want, particularly if it’s mean spirited, when you can hide behind a false name, or better yet, no name. It’s so much harder to offer up those views when you have to take “credit” for them.

Making fun of people, calling them names, questioning their motives or intelligence – if you need to do that to make a point, do it in public and fully identified. We call it cowardice for hiding behind anonymity or false names in a misguided effort to make a point.

So do we have any doubt as to why more people don’t run for office? We know that not everyone has the time or the inclination, but for those who do, they next have to consider whether they wish to be subjected to verbal abuse and ridicule from people who don’t have the guts to use their own names.

So much for “meaningful dialogue” and honesty, and especially, transparency. Anonymous attacks may demonstrate a clever use of words and a sharp wit, but their goal is to hurt. That’s not something to chuckle at. And if that’s the best shot that can be levied against someone seeking election, it’s not a very substantial one.

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