Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Protecting Civil Society in Topeka

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Protecting Civil Society in Topeka

Article excerpt

On Tuesday, thousands of Topekans cast their ballots in the city's mayoral primary. Michelle De La Isla and Spencer Duncan will now advance to the Nov. 7 general election, and they both said they were "humbled" to make it this far.

While all of the candidates have handled the results with dignity and magnanimity, there were a few ethical stains on this election that shouldn't be forgotten. At a time when our national political discourse has been contaminated by partisan hatred, fake news and bitter hostility toward good journalism, we should do our best to make local politics a bastion of civility. While many Topekans did just that, there were also some ugly exceptions.

For example, consider the unidentified woman who was filmed stealing a pro-Duncan sign from someone's front yard in Topeka. According to the owner of the sign, Hud Hamilton, it was the fourth sign that had been stolen in two weeks: "The signs are only $3 a piece, but it is property that is being stolen," he said. What's worse, it squelches his civic expression -- when thieves steal political signs, they aren't just depriving people of property. They're making it more difficult for citizens to advertise their political preferences. While we don't know what motivated the thief who stole Hamilton's signs, it's reasonable to assume she did so to damage Duncan's campaign.

Sure, the impact of a stolen sign is small. But it's still an attack on democratic participation, and no community should tolerate that.

A few days before the primary election, Topekans received anonymous postcards that exhorted them to "know the difference" between Duncan and De La Isla. The "difference," according to whoever sent the postcards, is that Duncan is a Republican and De La Isla is a Democrat. Although Duncan used to be a registered Republican, he switched to unaffiliated on April 19. …

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