At their cores, elections should be about policy issues – voters choose the candidate who will best represent their interests. When they try to campaign on anything besides those issues, it can be a sign that the candidate does not feel they can win any other way. This is a disservice to voters who are trying to make an informed decision. For this reason, we find it alarming that Christian Hansen, a candidate for District 8 alder, has begun his campaign by attacking the nominating petitions of his opponent, incumbent Ald. Scott Resnick, rather than conducting a substantive campaign from the start.
In order to get on the ballot for city alder, a candidate must submit nominating petitions with 20 valid signatures. In his complaint, Hansen noted some of Resnick’s signatures did not include a year in the date column, which is required. Further, he claimed one person had signed twice and at least one signature was from someone who lives outside the district.
In response to the complaint, the city clerk gave Resnick three days to have his circulators file an affidavit of correction, adding in the year for the signatures that were missing it. Resnick did so, and the clerk confirmed that he is on the ballot.
Ironically, Hansen’s petitions were flawed, too. Candidates are allowed to turn in a maximum of 40 total signatures – Hansen had 47. Resnick, however, chose not to challenge the petitions.
To be clear, Hansen was well within his rights to file his complaint. After all, it is important for candidates to be able to challenge their opponents’ petitions as a check on real fraud. In Resnick’s case, however, it is clear someone merely forgot to write the year on the petitions – there was no foul play.
Hopefully both candidates for District 8 will put these events behind them and go on to have a substantive campaign. This is better for everyone involved, especially District 8 residents. However, it will take both candidates acting in good faith for that to happen. Otherwise, Hansen is just as bad as the folks who tried to pillory signers of petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker to distract from the election’s most important issues.