By Paul Gable
Current political thought is the way to win campaigns is to give the voters something to fear and tell them who is to blame.
In a general way with few specifics, this appears to be exactly the strategy of the Ken Richardson for Mayor of Conway campaign is attempting.
An ad last week in local media told voters, “If you are a resident of Conway, the most important election of our LIFETIME will be on November 7, 2023.”
My first reaction was “WHY?” No specifics as to why the election is “the most important.” As cities in Horry County go, Conway is in better shape than the rest. The neighborhoods are safe, the business community is strong and the city staff has high morale.
The ad continued, “We are at a CROSSROADS, which DIRECTION do we want so see Conway go?” Again, no specifics as to the choices at these supposed crossroads.
Then, “MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS ARE NON-PARTISAN BUT THE CANDIDATES ARE NOT.” Once more, no specifics. What exactly are the partisan issues?
The City of Conway operates under a council form of government. This means each council member has one vote and the mayor has no more influence on agenda voting items than other council members. Therefore, if this is the “most important election” of the voters’ lifetime and the city is truly at a crossroads, then the entire city council is to blame for whatever is alleged to be wrong. Of course, no problems were identified.
The above statements are mere generalities, designed to make the voters feel afraid. Those they should be afraid of are the entire city council whose policies brought about this alleged state of affairs for the city.
The concluding statement is the one specific in the entire ad. It states Richardson is a leader with “strong conservation values.” Is this election to be about conservation issues? The city already does a good job on conservation. It has a strong tree ordinance, the building codes protect wetlands and the city has maintained the beauty and integrity of its neighborhoods and business district.
If there are valid policy issues which separate the candidates, they should be identified and debated in public forums. But vague generalities designed to promote a crisis atmosphere, with nothing to back them up, don’t cut it.