To The Daily Sun,
When my wife and I moved up here, one thing that impressed us was how fundamentally friendly people up here are. No matter where we went, we experienced a degree of friendliness and welcome that I hadn't seen since I lived much further South. But I'll tell you, this election season — particularly this county commissioner race — has a degree of ugly that I never saw in 30-plus years in Massachusetts.
Some will say that if you run for office, you open yourself up to all manner of attacks and investigations. I get that — to a point, as I served as an elected school board member in Massachusetts for seven years. My own children were "talked to" by disgruntled teachers during union negotiations. So a candidate needs to be prepared. And if there are skeletons in your closet, you need to think hard about if this is really what you want to do.
But let's look at the position. The county commissioners are responsible for overall supervision of county departments, buildings and land, and exercise budgetary oversight over all county expenditures. Oversight. Not setting tax rates. Not collecting taxes. It is a part-time job that pays between $9,000 and $11,000. You can honestly make that much working a part-time job. Why anyone would want this job is beyond me, but then again I heard the same thing about school board. People want to serve. They feel called to serve. It is honorable.
I've never met Jonathan Smolin or his family. I wouldn't recognize him if I stood next to him. But I have had close personal friends who've gone through bankruptcy and it can be a tough pill to swallow. And from some of what I've read, I don't believe I can say that I feel sorry for someone who has shown poor personal judgment when it comes to his or her finances. But I also believe in how I was raised — that family finances are the realm and responsibility of parents and not children. Do many of you share your personal financial failures with your children? I know I don't. Dirty laundry is not for public view.
But some folks have been needlessly brutal. They've publicly eviscerated Mr. Smolin about issues that are personal and family-related. Even his own family is guilty. These issues would have little impact on the position he is running for. They've smeared his name and disgraced him and his entire family in letter after letter after letter. His wife. His sons.
Did they think about his sons? Because they go to school in our local towns with the children of some of his detractors, and knowing people as I do and how they tend to spill over to their children or grandchildren, I've little doubt that the next few months will be quite painful for the Smolin boys. They're on the internet like most kids, I'm sure. Imagine if you had to read things like this about your own parents.
I've seen nothing from his opponents about policy, plans, platforms, or planks for what either Mr. Smolin or they would do in this role. But his bankruptcy is fair game? Shame on you for that. And if Hunter Taylor or anyone else is going to support and defend these attacks, then I promise you that my vote will not be coming their way.
Jonathan Smolin is running for Belknap County commissioner and does not deserve this kind of treatment. Perhaps we all could learn — even me — to balance our objectivity and consider the consequences before we issue an attack. And Mr. Smolin, you should think twice next time if you ever run again for any state or local office.