Once again, a Chemung County official has accused a local candidate of distorting facts for political gain.
In an article published online today by the Star Gazette, Deputy County Executive Mike Krusen criticized Sheriff Chris Moss, one of Krusen’s opponents in the county executive race, for failing to be honest with the community:
You should accept that Chris Moss’s Your Turn piece dated April 18 regarding the proposed creation of a Council of Governments is a self-serving distortion of the facts.
As this election season heats up, it will be important that we keep on high alert for the crowd who works through distortion, not fact, as a way to win the hearts of voters. We do not need to look far to see the carnage of these types of elections.
I have no involvement whatsoever with Moss’ campaign, and don’t offer this post as support of his candidacy. Instead, the post’s purpose is to point out what seems to be an unfortunate emerging theme.
An unprecedented number of people are running for local office in Chemung County this year. In an attempt to drill down the issues, these candidates – including myself – are discovering things our county government does really well, along with ways the county could improve. Indeed, this type of scrutiny is the essence of what it means to live in a democratic society. People who feel they can help out learn about the issues, share what they learn with voters, and let the voters decide who is best suited to serve.
The way Chemung County does business has not faced this type of scrutiny in a long, long time, as a small number of people have held most of the county-wide elected positions for many years. However, instead of addressing the issues that are being raised and considering whether or not there are new and better ways to do business, some Chemung County officials have chosen to attack the credibility and veracity of the people raising them.
It is easy to chalk this up to “politics as usual”, and there is some truth to that. But this type of behavior is one reason so many people have lost faith in government and avoid running for office, outcomes that run directly contrary to building a strong, successful community.
By way of example, after hearing Chemung County Budget Director Steve Hoover state that the county will likely be forced to raise taxes in 2019 among other concerns about the county’s fiscal health, Tony Pucci, a candidate for legislature in the 1st District, and I both wrote Your Turn editorials about the matter, found here and here.
In response to what we wrote, Chemung County Treasurer Joe Sartori countered by stating:
Mr. Pucci has to ignore many facts and distort others to make this representation work. It is unfortunate that political discourse has degenerated to this level.
Sartori used similar language to refute a "Your Turn" piece I wrote last month about the county’s newly proposed plan for a Council of Governments, stating:
If the voters of Chemung County wish to believe the good story that Mrs. Sonsire is telling and choose to ignore the facts, then they should vote for her for county legislature. If, however, they decide that good stories should be left for bedtime and listen to the facts, they may choose to vote otherwise.
This kind of rhetoric is extremely disappointing – and exhausting.
Distorting facts in order to mislead friends and neighbors so that I can get elected to the county legislature is an outrageous mischaracterization of what my entire campaign is about. In fact, the reason I created this blog in the first place is to have a place to share ideas about how to improve the community. Each post contains many links where readers can go to view information and data themselves, and I welcome any corrections to things that I say or do so that the ideas we discover are rooted in fact and as accurate as possible.
Change is hard, and can be uncomfortable – but it is also necessary and inevitable. It is too bad that some of our local leaders are choosing to attack those looking for solutions rather than work together to find out how we can make Chemung County a better place to live.
Christina Bruner-Sonsire is a local attorney and candidate for Chemung County Legislature