Today, March 17, 2023, I received a text from Mayor Daniel Biss (or most likely, his team) informing me that he was reaching out to me to let me know that he has endorsed Council Member Krissie Harris in the upcoming April election.
The text went on to explain his rationale for why he is endorsing her and a call to action (to join him in voting for her). Let me preface this letter by pointing out that this letter has absolutely nothing to do with Harris. Instead, this letter is centered on no matter whether it is legal or not for an elected official to endorse a candidate, I concur with language in a letter to the editor by a writer in Washington state. The person (2021) wrote, “there are times when those in elected offices should probably limit their individual freedoms to better serve the greater good of the community. In stronger terms, as representatives empowered by voters to serve in non-partisan positions, sitting elected officials would better serve the community that elected them by refraining from making public declarations for or against candidates, whether it be city, county, station, or national level positions. The benefits, whatever they are, are small compared to the costs of undermining public confidence and trust in government” (para. 3).
Notedly, the text to me is meant to be conveyed in private, not in a public venue, which is Mayor Biss’ right and concern. However, I also concur with the letter writer once again when they further shared, “For better or for worse, public officials must accept the simple fact that they are ‘always on,’ when speaking publicly and all too often these days when speaking privately. When public officials take it upon themselves to support or attack a candidate for office publicly [or in private], it frequently does more harm than good – possibly for the candidate but definitely for the public they have been elected to represent.”
There are varied opinions among scholars, political scientists and researchers on whether endorsements make a difference. Some argue that endorsements do have an impact on elections but not in a way that someone might think. “An endorsement is not going to change someone’s mind” if the voter was inclined to vote for one candidate over another, “endorsements only serve to legitimize how people are already leaning” (Joshua Stockley, 2014).
My point is that in a world where people are much more astute, sick to the nth degree of negative political campaigns and will cancel you in a blink of an eye, be mindful of texting people to avoid political posturing in public. We are all aware one’s private statements can quickly become one’s public nightmare – especially in cases of a “hot” mic (LOL). “Makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands” (Marvin Gaye, 1971).
Geri L. Palmer
If I’m not mistaken, I believe the text Ms. Palmer was a campaign text blasted out to 2nd ward residents in his campaign’s system–it was not meant to be taken as a private statement. Not that this changes the substance of Ms. Palmer’s concern, although I disagree on the merits. It seems to me that it’s not only the mayor’s right to endorse, but makes sense that he would endorse his own appointees, even if I disagree with his choices.