The Spy published a Letter To the Editor yesterday favoring County Council candidates who support “the Average Guy.” That perfectly appropriate headline masked, however, an ugly and purposeful effort to rip a deep tear in the social fabric of Talbot County.
(The context is the political discussion between the Bipartisan Coalition–whose objective is to unseat Ms. Williams because of past policies and a pattern of voting against citizens’ interests—and Ms. Williams’s slate of 4 candidates going by the name of “Common Sense Talbot,” although pretending to be an independent citizens’ PAC. The Coalition is not named; the letter is crafted with phrases like “It has been said,” and “what some have labeled,” and so forth.)
That letter is the front end of a strategy that will play out over the next 9 days, but could easily create very lasting damage to our Community. It could be a pivot point: downhill if its purpose succeeds, or a regenerating turn for the better if its intentions are thwarted
The letter is designed to create a tribal, “them against us” framework of the ugliest sort for this County Council election, mirroring that cancerous posturing usually found in Washington DC, not Talbot County. The writer says in part:
“All you have to do is look at the players…,” meaning: do not pay any attention to what the Coalition is saying, or the evidence for their position they’re advocating. Just vote on the basis of identity.
…one side living as normal, middle class folks, while the other side lives in multi-million dollar homes on the water and drive expensive cars…
“…one side comprised of people who come from here, raise their families here [etc.]…and the other side who have recently retired here and have lots of time and resources to present their demands at public hearings.
And most reprehensibly, the letter writer says this:
“It’s been my experience that most of the people attending public hearings in mass are…wealthy retirees that came here from other places around the state and country and think that Talbot County citizens are too stupid and complacent to rebel against their desire to control this county.” [Emphasis supplied.]
If any voter believed the writer for a second—the Coalition is just rich people who want to control the County I was born in, and they all think I’m stupid and compacent—then of course you would vote for Ms. Williams, and also Divilio, Callahan and Pack!
But not a word of it is true.
So who wrote this letter? It was submitted to, and published by the Spy on Sunday, by Mr. William Cockayne. Shamefully, Mr. Cockayne does not reveal in the letter—and did not disclose to its editor—that he is the husband of Jennifer Williams. (As soon as the editor learned that fact, he pulled the letter. When the editor reached Mr. Cockayne and confirmed the relationship it was reposted with that clarification noted below.)
I have attended very many Council work sessions, meetings, and public hearings (some “in mass”) but had never till 3 weeks ago heard of Mr. Cockayne. I do not believe he has ever been to one meeting as he claims…but his wife, Ms. Williams, has been to them all. I believe one can reasonably ascribe Mr. Cockayne’s letter to Ms. Williams. I for one also believe the other members of that slate—whether or not they knew of the letter—fully understand and endorse the ugly “them-versus-us” strategy it reveals….and which is already showing up in Facebook posts as of this morning.
If anyone in our community thinks Talbot County voters are stupid and complacent, the caper of Mr. Cockayne’s deceitful LTE suggests it is Ms. Williams. Apparently she truly believes voters will fall for anything; that they will indeed have their heads turned by blowing the dog whistle of “them-versus-us;” and that they are incapable of looking at the evidence assembled at CountyOverParty.org and thinking for themselves.
The Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership