With less than a week until Election Day, candidates are raising the intensity in the races for Brookhaven mayor and city council.
Brookhaven voters are likely seeing more yard signs, receiving more phone calls and getting more flyers in the mail from the more than 20 people who hope to become the city of Brookhaven’s first leaders.
And in some cases, those campaign mailers are a platform for candidates to paint their opponents in a negative light.
Sandy Murray, a candidate for mayor, mailed out a flyer attacking one of her opponents, J. Max Davis.
Murray said the intent of the mailer was to highlight the difference between herself and Davis.
“One of the things people told me after the first debate was all the candidates for mayor looked the same,” Murray said. “It was important to show the contrast between the candidates. Since J. Max Davis is my chief opponent, I thought it was important to show we aren’t very alike at all.”
Murray said she’s gotten a good response from people who have received the mailer.
“They like the idea of having a contrast so they can see the differences. I haven’t had anybody complain,” Murray said.
Davis said he doesn’t like that the campaign has taken a negative turn.
“Desperation breeds desperate tactics,” he said. “My opponent Ms. Murray really has no agenda and she’s attacking in a dishonest fashion. It’s sad.”
He said he doesn’t plan to use any attack ads.
“I’m very proud of the campaign I’ve run,” Davis said.
Mayoral candidate Larry Danese said he doesn’t take issue with negative campaigning.
“I don’t really have a problem with attack mailers. Candidates need a way to try to separate themselves. Something needs to set them apart in order for you to have a reason to vote for them,” Danese said. “Those kinds of ads really kind of have to be expected.”
Danese said what upsets him is when candidates inflate their personal accomplishments in campaign materials.
“I’m more concerned about people who exaggerate their own qualifications than I am with them disparaging mine,” Danese said.
Thom Shepard, who is also running for mayor, recently restarted his campaign after taking time away to focus on working with the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven and learning about the process the city will use to find the private sector contractors that will provide city services.
Shepard said while running for mayor, he has tried to focus on the big picture rather than himself as a candidate. His main goal, he said, is making planning and sustainability top priorities in the city of Brookhaven.
“I think some of the intensity is based on passion in the community,” Shepard said. But when campaigns go too negative, it can hurt the community, he said. “It is undermining the cohesiveness of the city,” he said.