By Eric Beasley
There’s a storm brewing in small town in Frederick County. Likely, it is one that you have not heard about. Brunswick is having our municipal elections in August, in which the Mayor and three Council seats are up for grabs.
The details of the race, the candidates, and their positions are going to be covered by William Warren, another Brunswick resident. As always, A Miner Detail will be providing complete and fair coverage of the race.
But something happened today that I just cannot ignore.
Brunswick has a monthly Farmer’s Market, using a City parking lot (therefore, public property) right next to the train station to bring in local vendors. We do not have a grocery store in town, so this is the best we can do at the moment.
Today, I requested permission from the Farmer’s Market to set up a booth down there on May 21st. For what purpose, you may ask? I had planned on handing out some campaign literature, registering people to vote, and collecting signatures to force a ballot question about pet chickens within city limits.
As you can obviously surmise, I will be running for Council here in Brunswick, hence the hands-off approach to covering the race. I want to register people to vote because it is an important civic duty. And as far as chickens go, I both believe that people should have individual control over their property and that ballot measures on such issues are the best way to decide a future course of action.
This is the response I received from the Farmer’s Market:
Dear Eric,Thank you very much for your email. Although we’re happy for local groups and organizations to set up tables, we don’t allow the farmers market to be used for political purposes.Maybe you could contact the organizer of the flea market, which is held every other week across the road from the farmers market, and ask him if you could set up a table there.Best wishes,Jonathan SpurrellManager, Brunswick Farmers Market
So here’s a picture of political activity taking place at the Brunswick Farmer’s Market. Ask yourself, does the Farmer’s Market actually want to keep their event non-political?
Here’s another one for you. Last year, Mayor Tome gave a little speech at the Farmer’s Market kickoff. It is logical to assume that she will be giving another similar speech this year. Is Mayor Tome going to mention her re-election campaign? Is the Brunswick Farmer’s Market going to allow an incumbent to campaign from a soapbox at their event?
We’ve all seen this before, the power of the incumbency. It let’s you reach audiences from the office you hold, allowing you to skirt around principles like fair time, fair coverage of candidates, and campaigning during non-political functions.
UPDATE: Another word used to describe this is nepotism, which means “the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”
Is the Farmer’s Market going to allow some political speech that they agree with and not others? Even worse, they are using public property to hold their event. So are they going to allow the Mayor, executive of the City and overseer of allowing such functions, to campaign at the function and restrict other candidates? Do you see the conflict here?
I sure hope the Farmer’s Market takes a principled position and does not engage in the typical Liberal-Tactic of “some speech is more equal than others.”