In small time local politics, little things can mean a lot.
Here in Franklin, a city of merely 36,000 people, we have a contested mayoral election in April (if there is one).
The incumbent is Mayor Steve Olson who gets our family votes. His opponent is the flawed Basil Ryan who served as an alderman in Franklin from 2001-2003 until he was disgracefully, ceremoniously dumped in a recall election 58-42%.
Olson has worked hard to advance the city, but has run into staunch opposition by some who do so, I swear, simply because they don’t like the man. So they back the ousted Ryan.
Recently a very biased Franklin forum opened on Facebook to conveniently correspond with the April election. The head moderator is a young, very politically naïve young man who just happened to have run against Olson when he was an alderman… and lost.
Another moderator is a former Franklin alderwomen, Susanne Mayer who was completely inept during her short tenure and left because she simply wasn’t up to the task.
Contributing frequently on the site is Franklin Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm who thrives on a huge ego. Like others on the Facebook site if you suck up to her you’re in good graces. If not, you get chastised up and down. Wilhelm has never liked Olson and has attempted to thwart him at almost every opportunity.
Just last week on this biased anti-Steve Olson site a woman posted the following about Olson’s opponent:
“Do you know that Basil Ryan is out shopping for the seniors in Franklin and delivering it to them so that they don’t have to go out to shop?!!! He’s collecting supplies like toilet paper and disinfectants and picking up prescriptions and food for senior citizens. He truly cares about the people of Franklin. He’s been to my house a few times to pick up TP that I bought at the store I work at for the seniors and then delivers it to them.”
In and of itself, not a bad comment. The implication was explicitly clear. Ryan was a saint to the elderly. Practically walks on water.
Problem: The same comment verbatim had been posted at least twice before on the same Facebook site. The head moderator who gushes for Ryan, the other moderator Mayer who loves Ryan, and Alderwoman Wilhelm who also adores Ryan and comments all the time, never caught it (or just ignored it). It took one of the site’s readers to point it out to the blind sheep.
Not a big deal? I think it says something about the candidate’s followers that they would resort to this trickery just to get their tainted guy elected. Who knows how long the chicanery would have been allowed to remain on the site until it was eventually discovered.