‘I will vote accordingly’

“This campaign strategy reeks of desperation, and more importantly, negativity,” said Gwendolyn Reese about the Darden Rice Campaign mailers.

BY GWENDOLYN REESE, Community Advocate

ST. PETERSBURG — This is my humble opinion for whatever it’s worth…

Over the past week or so, many neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, particularly on the south side, have been inundated with mailers from the Rice Campaign. These mailers had one purpose. To make people think that there is some kind of political connection between Ken Welch and Donald Trump.

This campaign strategy reeks of desperation, and more importantly, negativity. The obvious intent is to divide the community, specifically the Black community. The Rice Campaign has adopted political mudslinging and smear tactics to win the primary mayoral election in August.

Such mudslinging and smear tactics can come back to haunt you. They usually do. It is called opposition research, and even when such research is done competently and ethically, it turns up dirt. It would probably not take much opposition research on Ms. Rice to show that she may be guilty of her campaign’s same accusations against Welch.

I view what Rice has done as a deliberate attempt to sow seeds of discontent and create division and mistrust through the use of fear and hate-mongering. Historically, these tactics have been used as a form of intimidation, most frequently regarding voting rights.

Fear-mongering is the deliberate arousal of public fear or alarm about a particular issue, in this case, for political gain. Hate mongering is the act or practice of stirring up hatred or enmity in others. The unfounded accusations and the use of the name Trump, in bold uppercase letters, is a deliberate use of fear and hate-mongering for political gain.

My question to Rice is why? Why choose this campaign strategy? Why reduce yourself to such a low level? Is this a pattern? Do you even embody the things that are important to our community? Are you even someone we can trust in a position of power? Is this indicative of how you will govern? How will you lead our city?

I’ve adopted Maya Angelou’s mantra: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This quote is about believing what a person demonstrates themselves to be, regardless of who they claim they are.

It can be challenging to overcome what we believe someone to be or want someone to be. It’s easy to be swayed by feelings and appearances. But by her actions, Rice has shown us who she really is, how she will conduct herself publicly. Moreover, this is a clear foreshadowing of how she will lead our city, regardless of the claims she has made publicly or stated in her campaign literature.

Rice has shown me who she is, and I believe her. Actions speak louder than words. The actions of the Rice Campaign have shown me that she is not the person l want to represent our city as the next mayor of St. Petersburg. Clearly, she does not share many of my values, nor does she embody the things that are important to me. She is not someone I can trust in a position of power. I, for one, believe her. I will vote accordingly.

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