COMMENTARY: Silence Will Do Us Some Good

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

The local election season is over and will not come around again for at least three and a half years. That's good, because the county can use some quiet time.

The candidates themselves for the most part engaged in honorable campaigns. The same can not be said for those people who took to the Internet to engage in slander, innuendo and distortion.

I'm a firm believer in freedom of expression. However, I'm also of the opinion that there should be some limits to it. I routinely reject comments from our Web site if I think the information contained in them is not true, or unprovable. I constantly struggle with myself over whether I should even allow the posting of comments to articles at all, unless the person signs them with their real name.

Case in point: On another local Web site there are comments posted to an article on the election about Neal Appelbaum, who was a non-winning candidate for a county commission seat. The venom some posters have spewed at Appelbaum is despicable.

What has he done to deserve such treatment? Is it the fact he recently put together a five-year strategic plan for the county? Or that he tipped the chamber of commerce off on the company that is putting the finishing touches on a much-needed local comprehensive county Web site? Perhaps it was his writing of grant applications for the county and Town of Woodbury to improve energy efficiency at the courthouse and city hall, which were awarded.

My point being that after over 15 years of operating Web sites for newspapers, and witnessing the type of things some people will say when they can do so anonymously, I am questioning whether I really want to be a part of it any longer.

Of course, I have my opinions too with regard to community events. Sometimes I express them publicly, sometimes I choose to remain silent.

The following opinion may be one of those instances where I should keep quite, but I will open my big mouth anyway.

During the entire County General Election campaign, there was only one candidate I strongly felt should be elected. That is Mike Gannon, who is and will continue to be county executive.

That's not to indicate I have anything against either Rebekah Parton or George Pittman. Rebekah is one of the more likable people I have met in Cannon County, and I believe she served extremely well as a county commissioner. I've also enjoyed my conversations and interactions with George, and I believe him to be very intelligent and insightful.

Most people familiar with Cannon County know that the Courier office sits directly across from the courthouse. If I weren't already convinced that Gannon was the best person to serve as county executive, the simple things I saw Saturday morning confirmed my feelings.

At around 7:15 a.m., I saw Gannon's truck was already sitting in the courthouse parking lot. My thought was that here is a man who had just been elected to his third term by a large margin a few days before, who could have justifiably taken the day off, yet he wasn't resting on his laurels.

He was in his office, interacting with constituents young and old, both in person and over the phone, helping people and taking care of county business. His dedication and love for the job the voters have once again entrusted him with is obvious.

There are things that I do, decisions I make, that I know do not please everyone. I've learned that goes with the territory. Gannon is in the same situation, but I know just as I try to do what's in the best interest of the Courier and the majority of our readers, he does the same for the county and the majority of its citizens.