Pounds: Webb of dysfunctionWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Few public maneuvers are as unsavory as a political power grab. A desperate attempt to retain power at all costs is usually unflattering to those involved and often undermines confidence in the electoral process.
District 6 Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb’s fight to remain on the Sept. 13 primary ballot despite a clear case of noncompliance with the city charter is a textbook case for such chicanery.
Postmarked evidence proving that her original story of mailing an envelope on time from Ann Arbor was not accurate underlines the sentiment that the credibility-damaged Webb should take a higher road and remove herself from the race and consider stepping down from her council seat now.
On Aug. 24, an appeals court canceled a scheduled Lucas County Board of Elections meeting that was meant to decide whether Webb would be on the ballot. Opponent Doug DeCamp said she should be ineligible because she missed a deadline to file a document accepting her candidacy.
Ironically, when DeCamp faced a late June complaint for a minor noncompliance issue, Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler told Toledo Free Press, ?In my experience on the Board of Elections I?ve been to two conferences and they beat the rules into your head ? I would think we all live up to the same rules, which really since everybody is really careful about rules in the Board of Elections, and everything I?ve seen lately is that whatever the rules say you should or shouldn?t do I would hope that those same rules apply to everybody.? Webb added, ?It is critical that these laws be followed, they were created to ensure fair play in our election process.?
Of course, they?re singing a different tune now.
Webb?s mistake is a relatively minor one, but the issue at stake is an established and recognized part of the city charter election process (the other 19 candidates on the primary ballot got it right). At what point should the law and election rules be bent, broken or avoided? What message does it send to allow exceptions and adapt the rules to suit a candidate who made a mistake?
I have heard the argument that the BOE hasn?t always enforced the deadline, but that?s a weak argument. That?s like arguing you should avoid a ticket for running a red light because so many other motorists get away with it.
How much court time is to be spent on Webb?s quest? How much time will an already suspect Lucas County BOE spend on this? How much public time and money will be spent on the effort?
The discussion needs to be free of party affiliation and candidate enthusiasm. You may support Webb or rebuff Webb, but that should not impact a basic stance of support for recognized and accepted procedure. It?s unfortunate for Webb and her many supporters, but it seems clear she made a mistake that should cost her the slot on the ballot. Either we want people in office who will maintain the integrity of the process, or we allow people to hold on to power at the cost of that integrity.
It?s a clear choice for those who respect election law.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.