Are the days of ‘old school’ local politics finally done? Looks it

In the past, whenever an election was a week or so away, there was no telling what to expect. There were last minute mailers. There were midnight fence drops of literature. There were robo phone calls. There were any number of tactics used by some candidates that were underhanded, sometimes libelous.

Often, these tactics employed examples of lies and  misleading information. They were used to discredit certain candidates.

And this all would happen when it was too late for opposing candidates to rebut the nonsense. Such was the case in 2018 in Belleville, which led Mayor Michael Melham to file a defamation lawsuit against the people he learned were behind a lie-filled mailer. (They tried to remain anonymous, but failed.)

Those people, by the way, included three folks who were his staunch political enemies. One person settled out of court, but the case will be soon getting its day in court after years of delays caused by the pandemic. And this is great.

Because for far too long, candidates in local elections, not just in Belleville, often did things that were suspect at best, illegal at worst.

Some might even suggest the recent “controversy” about the Planning Board was another, last-ditch example of that kind of politics.

But now, following, as we predicted in January, a contentious election, there were no late-night mailers. There were no literature pieces maligning a candidate’s employment record (though she did have someone on social media accuse her of not living in Belleville.) There was no need for anyone to file a defamation suit.

The people of Belleville spoke loudly and clearly last week and in doing so, they said they are sick and tired of the “old way.” They are well educated on the issues, so spewing lies and trying to mislead them will never again be successful.

This election has hopefully signified the end to the old way of doing things. And with luck, this will continue on forever. The days of shouting, screaming, lying, are over. That may have worked before, but it will not work anymore. And as the voters’ message was loud and clear, this message should be, too, to those who would otherwise sling the mud.

They better hear the message. Because if they do not, they’ll be wasting a lot of time and energy on nothing in the coming months and years.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.