TERRE HAUTE — Our readers love to write letters, and election politics is one of their favorite subjects.
The recent epic mayoral tussle produced a virtual flood of submissions. Emotions ran high in many of the narratives. Election results showed voters almost evenly divided over this race, so it’s no surprise that the volume of letters received and published reflected a high degree of intensity.
Letters about the election began to trickle in during late September, with the flow increasing steadily in mid-October and becoming heavy in late October. In all, we devoted far more space to election-related letters this year than ever before.
What’s more, by using our online edition at www.tribstar.com, we were able to publish more last-minute letters than in previous elections. All printed space allocated for letters through Monday, election eve, had been filled by Friday, Nov. 2. Letters that arrived via e-mail after 6 p.m. that day and throughout last weekend were posted on our Web site by Monday morning.
Unfortunately, type-written or hand-written letters that arrived past that point could not be used because we simply did not have the time to re-type and process them for publication. There were approximately 15 of those, with about 10 endorsing Duke Bennett (almost all of those came in one packet dropped off at our front desk Monday morning), and the others endorsing Kevin Burke.
Ordinarily we don’t publish political letters on Election Day. I made an exception to that practice this year when City Council Member Todd Nation submitted an e-mail letter over the weekend addressing his unauthorized inclusion in the Democrats for Duke flier attacking Mayor Burke.
Why did I make that exception? Nation was unopposed in his race, so he gained no advantage. His letter did not endorse or attack any other candidate. It did sharply criticize the Democrats For Duke mailer produced and distributed by Joe Selliken, calling it a “disservice” to all political candidates and to the community. Nation wanted voters to know that he did not endorse the tactics used, even though Selliken and his associates had included him in its mailing. It was a newsworthy letter on an important subject that arose in the waning moments of the election. It deserved to be published in a timely fashion.
Of course, some of those dishing the dirt in that mailing were offended by Nation’s letter and my decision to use it on Election Day. No surprise, really. They thought they had a free shot at their target for which they would not be held accountable. They did not like it a bit when that turned out not to be the case. So be it.
• To all those who took the opportunity to exercise their cherished right to vote in Tuesday’s municipal election. While voter turnout was light at 30 percent, those who did cast ballots are to be commended for their efforts.
• To Terre Haute North Vigo High School graduate Nate Blank for getting his college basketball career off to a great start with his team, Gardner-Webb, winning twice this week. The biggest victory was against powerhouse Kentucky in Lexington. Blank scored 12 points in that monumental upset.
You can say that again
“I think, obviously, when you have change in progress, you’re going to rub someone the wrong way, and I think that’s probably what [Mayor Kevin] Burke did. And a lot of times that’s hard to overcome, depending on who you rub the wrong way.”
— Ann Murphy of Terre Haute commenting on the results of Tuesday’s municipal election