We feel obliged to call out Selectman James Potter for turning his board’s public comment period Tuesday night into a miniature campaign event (see page 1).
As an incumbent running against finance committee Chairwoman Mary Jane Mastrangelo for a selectman seat, Mr. Potter took a bit of a coward’s route in criticizing Ms. Mastrangelo at length when he knew she could not respond to his accusations because of procedural rules, though she was present at the remote meeting.
After publicly vilifying Ms. Mastrangelo, Mr. Potter then requested that the board bring his rival into executive session to discuss the issues he raised.
The natural question is, why would Mr. Potter make this public outcry and then ask to go into a private conversation?
Granted, Mr. Potter also suggested the possibility of a public meeting to address his issues with Ms. Mastrangelo, but those steps should have been taken first. Chastising the finance committee chairwoman in the manner he chose should have been a last-resort measure. Ultimately, his one-sided screed proved to be “attack ad” campaigning at its worst.
It is also somewhat ironic that Mr. Potter would begin his tirade against Ms. Mastrangelo thus: “I have a few words tonight; you know, our politics at the national level have given us a lot of division; we need more positive energy, kindness, so I have had a lot of time to consider what the best path is to move forward, but after the last sewer meeting, I felt it was overdue to address the board.”
This is an admirable statement, but where were the kindness, unity and positivity during the incumbent’s comments?
Now, there is a fairly lengthy campaign season still ahead during which Ms. Mastrangelo will have time to respond to Mr. Potter’s allegations—and possibly to make some of her own, too.
But we hope neither candidate will choose to set up his or her soapbox during another public comment period at a selectmen’s meeting.
It is simply not the place for a stump speech.