To the Editor:
Politics in Upper Township is at a fever pitch. Nine candidates are vying for three positions.
There are many hot topic issues like economic development, taxes, Exit 20, and the demand for an open process at the committee level.
The community has a lot of homework to do, so they can get to know each candidate before voting. One way is by attending events or monitoring their political pages on social media to see what they are saying. I have done both. My voter registration is unassigned.
Upper Township Business Association (UTBA) hosted a Candidates Night Sept. 30. The Democratic team, Republican team, and Plans Need Action team of independent Republicans were all invited. The Republicans declined the invite to participate. They decided to host a separate event the same evening, with just their candidates.
I decided to attend both events. I arrived at the opening of the UTBA event and heard the first hour of questions and rebuttals. I arrived in time for the scheduled one-hour discussion of issues at the Republican event.
The next day, all the political pages posted images and comments from the events the night before. The Plans Need Action team and the Democratic team thanked UTBA, as well as the other candidates for a civil and robust discussion of issues, but also expressed disappointment that the Republicans did not participate.
On the other hand, the Republicans created a post that was so outlandish, I felt the need to comment and disagree with their assessment. It was the first time I posted on their page.
Here is my comment that was deleted:
"Another false narrative... I can honestly say your account is an utter fabrication.
"I registered for the UTBA event and submitted a question on the registration. It was included as one of the questions to the candidates. It was a civil discussion by the Purple Democrats and the Plans Need Action Team of independent Republicans.
“I thank UTBA for hosting it. They did a good job, and all were able to hear from each candidate their perspective on the issues. Each answered a question individually and all candidates were able to respond in rebuttal. Very interesting. Shame on you for not participating. There was no sign-waving, etc., as you state.
"On the other hand, the attendance at your fire hall event was meager and had a crowd wearing your campaign shirts and Indian football shirts. This was a rally. Not a single question was asked via your Zoom audience. There was no debate or discussion of issues, just a one-sided conversation of like-minded individuals. I learned nothing new at your event. Same old, same old.”
A few short minutes later, I was blocked. I could no longer see their page. I was so angered that I shared my post and situation on a local community page called, “You know You're From Upper Township If...”
My post instantly drew comments and shares. It was not just me that had been blocked. At least a half-dozen people reached out to tell me it had happened to them. They tried to comment on that post, as well. Some even shared that they had been blocked for a while, after posting their personal views on issues.
Political social media pages have become the modern-day town square. This is not national politics; this is small-town community politics. It bothered me that I was blocked by political candidates that are running for office and may be elected to represent me.
What is to be done? Not sure, with Election Day just a few weeks away, so I wrote this letter.
ED. NOTE: When asked for their response to the above letter, Kim Hayes, Jay Newman, and Mark Pancoast, Republican candidates for Upper Township Committee, stated, “The first Republican President Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Government by the people and for the people shall not perish from the face of this earth.’
“That is a fundamental principal of Newman, Hayes, and Pancoast’s campaign communication plan. Interaction directly with the people of Upper Township is a core value for us.
“The Town Hall format was the right choice for us. They are open to everyone. No question screening. No fee was charged to attend. Attend in person or from the comfort of your own home.
“Thank you to all those who participated in the first two of our three Town Hall conversations with the voters. Whether you asked a question, made a comment, or just tuned in to watch, we want you to know how much we enjoyed talking with you.
“Thank you for your post-Town Hall comments and questions. Many people are not comfortable speaking out in public. Your private insight was every bit as valuable to us as were the public comments.
“Over 3,000 people have viewed our Town Hall and gotten to know exactly who our candidates are and what they stand for.
“Newman, Hayes, and Pancoast’s administration will bring this kind of community outreach to township government on a daily basis. We will be working to keep taxes down and property values up. Standing up to the radical left-wing agenda, fighting for small business, improving our volunteer and youth programs, holding Trenton accountable for the $4.3 million cut to our schools.
“As momentum builds toward Election Day, there will be one more Town Hall. For details, see us at votehnp.com.”