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Denton resident calls for code of fair campaign practices after recent runoff election

Denton resident calls for code of fair campaign practices after recent runoff election

Denton resident calls for code of fair campaign practices after recent runoff election
July 30
12:00 2018

After what many thought was a city election filled with offending rhetoric, a Denton resident is calling for the reinstatement of a code of fair campaign practices. The code would be provided in a packet for prospective candidates who would have the choice to sign it. 

Mike Cochran, Denton resident and retiree, witnessed the recent runoff election between Deb Armintor and Aaron “Fuzzy” Newquist and believes the city needs community standards for their city elections. He went to the popular “Denton Matters” Facebook page to share his proposal. 

“[I] would like to suggest [the code of fair campaign practice] be re-instituted as a practice to help re-establish a little civility in our local election,” Cochran said.

During the last city council runoff election — in which Deb Armintor beat Aaron “Fuzzy” Newquist with 54.12 percent of the vote — many saw Newquist’s rhetoric to be offensive and partisan.

As a part of Newquist’s campaign, he called Armintor “dangerous” and the “liberal choice” while criticizing sanctuary cities and dual language programs. Newquist made a written statement in defense of his campaign, saying that Armintor’s clear alliance with liberal ideas brought about his campaign strategy.

“Rather than addressing the facts and acknowledging the true differences between the candidates, they are playing the race card and attempting to divide us as a city based on fear, emotion and intimidation,” Newquist said.

Cochran said the tone of the campaign fell along the lines of state and national politics, which should not be in local elections.

“[Newquist] turned his 10 point lead into a 10 point loss,” Cochran said. “If he would have followed these ethical guidelines, he would have won.”

Cochran’s proposed code has seven statements of fair campaign practices for candidates to sign off on. Cochran says the code is educational and proscriptive, establishing ideas of good behavior for candidates.

“These are the standards we have in Denton, and we value decency in campaigning,” Cochran said.

The code was the brainchild of Dorothy Damico, a civic leader in Denton who Cochran said was behind good citizen movements in Denton about 20 years ago. When campaigning in the 90’s turned uncivil, Damico pushed for this code of ethics.

The council, at that time, adopted the code, but it fizzled out over time. If the code gets reinstated, then Cochran said he would update it to add a clause about candidates controlling their most zealous supporters. This is due to passionate supporters turning a campaign negative, especially through social media.

Cochran’s proposed code is identical in wording to the Texas Ethics Commission Election Code, which was instituted in 1997 and revised in 2017. Read King, who ran in the Texas District 64 against Lynn Stucky in 2014, took to Facebook to say Texas State representatives have the option to sign a similar document to the one Cochran is proposing.

“I declined signing it for multiple reasons,” King said. “I believe that my actions during the campaign showed that I upheld the spirit of what was on that paper without signing it.”

He said documents like this code can be used as weapons against candidates which diverts from its original purpose. Cochran said those against the code are either paranoid or planning to campaign unethically.

“If somebody signs the pledge and doesn’t behave honorable in the campaign, then it absolutely should be used against them,” Cochran said. “That’s what it’s for, to modify behavior and cause candidates to think winning is important but winning honorable and ethically is more important.”

The civil cause of action on the Texas Ethics Commission Election Code states that, “this chapter does not create a civil cause of action for recovery of damages or for enforcement of this chapter.”

Amy Morgan, a Denton resident and North Central Texas College student, took issue with the idea that the code has no enforcement backing. She does not know if the code can be enforced without regulating the philosophical attitude of people, which would bring more controversy.

She says the code would be used as political advertising and a tool against other candidates. Morgan understands the reasoning behind the code but thinks there are other ways to bring civility to campaigns.

“I understand the spirit and the intent to bring back some rules people can abide by,” Morgan said.

Morgan thinks the best way to fight negative campaigns is through community participation. She said residents should get involved in campaigns sooner and call out negative campaigns when they see them.

“The best way to get in front of [negative campaigns] is not to sign a paper but get out and support the candidates who are ethical,” Morgan said.

Cochran said candidates should be pleased and proud to sign a pledge. He said public standards can remind candidates how to act.

“Establishing some sort of community standards and presenting them out front in public is not a bad idea,” Cochran said.

Featured Image: File

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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1 Comment

  1. Mira Dean
    Mira Dean July 30, 23:34

    I will vote this election for candidates who prioritize citizens over illegal aliens, those who oppose sanctuary cities, amnesty and taxpayer funded in state college tuition discounts for illegals. That means NO Democrats not even for dog catcher.

    When will politicians and people in general figure out that when you reward illegal immigration with jobs, amnesty, drivers licenses, discounts for college tuition, scholarships encourages MORE illegal entry.. Illegal immigration negativity effects our economy from employment to use public services. Just debating this in congress is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars….. thank the parents.

    ust a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children and grand children as has been passed on to us

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the billions spent on bilingual education for illegal aliens.

    *Currently numerous city, and state officials are appropriating millions of taxpayer dollars for legal fees to to file law suits and in defense of illegal aliens being deported and to sue our own Government..

    *2016 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is getting involved in our politics.

    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. Does not include local jails and State Prisons. At $33,274 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison U do the math. ( The Vera Institute )

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens, I repeat 3 MILLION a DAY to process Illegals in the Criminal justice system.

    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps) WIC, & free school lunches.

    * Taxpayer funded in state tuition college discounts for illegal aliens cost taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

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