Brunswick – The Power of Incumbency

By Eric Beasley

AnimalFarm1

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 Spurrell
Manager, Brunswick Farmers Market
So the Farmer’s Market is not to be used to political purposes. Would you consider advocating for legislation to be passed by the Council as a political purpose? Here’s a picture from last summer of the lovely Amy Tuthill, half of Team Cluck – Brunswick Chapter.
chickens at 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.”

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Ryan Miner is Editor in Chief, Founder and Publisher of AMinerDetail.com. Miner is the sole reporter and columnist at AMinerDetail.com, covering Maryland news, politics, business, education, national, state and local government. Miner is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.

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4 Comments on "Brunswick – The Power of Incumbency"

  1. Avatar The Rev. Anjel Scarborough | May 10, 2016 at 11:59 am |

    As the rector of Grace Church, who runs the Farmers Market, allow me to clarify our position. We allowed the Chicken issue to be present because it was *issue* based and raised awareness of chickens and a sustainable food supply, which is part of the objective of the Farmers Market and the Brunswick Food Forest.

    We are not allowing partisan candidates to have tables to electioneer. This is what Jonathan Spurrell was referring to in his response to you Eric. We did not allow Mayor Tome to electioneer at the market; however, she is our mayor (whether you like it or not) and as a public official, she did speak briefly at the opening of the Market. She will likely speak this year and if Jeff Snoots wants to speak, that’s fine as he is a City Council member. So long as their speeches are not electioneering, we have no issue with public officials doing their jobs.

    This blog post is a distortion of our goals and objectives as the Brunswick Farmers Market. We will give space to issues regarding sustainability and our food supply. We will not endorse any candidate, give space or time for electioneering, or allow partisan politics to be injected into our mission by you or anyone else.

    • Avatar Bobby Hummel | May 10, 2016 at 1:23 pm |

      Rev,

      Nowhere, in your response, did you deny political favoritism.

      As a matter of fact, you went on to accuse the author of campaigning.

      A Farmer’s market should be Just that (a place for Farmer’s to sell their wares).

      So, either you allow someone to register voters, As well as educate on different farming topics and letting public officials speak, or you Only allow the trading of Farm products.

  2. Avatar Joe Harrington | May 10, 2016 at 4:23 pm |

    Really who gives a crap. The Farmers market I’ve attend draw more non-residents than residents.

  3. Avatar Rick Weldon | May 11, 2016 at 10:09 am |

    With all due respect to Rev. Scarborough (and much respect IS due), her response hinges on the idea that the pro-chicken advocates were simply advocates for the cause. In truth, based on my own first-hand experience, they were both. They were certainly advocating for the cause, but they were also political advocates, expressing their preference for and opposition to incumbent officeholders based on their positions. The latter IS political advocacy under any analysis. You cannot have it both ways, and the failure of the market oversight to distinguish has resulted in favoritism, both in principle and practice.

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