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How blind partisanship trumps decency (opinion)

Date:

Submitted by Willie Puchert

I was astonished when, recently, the Washoe County Democratic Party mailed out a slate card that encourages local Democrats to vote for disgraced former school board trustee Scott Kelley.

Kelley was forced to resign last month after allegations surfaced in a This Is Reno story of disturbing behavior that included the following:

  • A temporary protective order for domestic violence was filed alleging Kelley placed GPS tracking units in his wife’s vehicles, followed her to Lake Tahoe and secretly took pictures of her with a lover after the couple allegedly agreed to separate.
  • Court documents filed by his wife allege Kelley had sex with strippers he finds on Craigslist, Instagram and dating apps and he allegedly is into 18-plus “teen” porn. 
  • Allegations that Kelley threatened to beat and kill his wife, and is alleged to have put one child in harm’s way, according to his spouse’s attorney.
  • Allegations that Kelley verbally attacked teachers and other constituents on social media sites and calling administrators and supervisors of people speaking out against him.

These serious allegations prompted school board leaders to call on Kelley to resign with the Board of Trustees President Malena Raymond making the following statement:

“In my professional experience working for a domestic violence organization, I find some of his behaviors worrisome and inappropriate for someone entrusted with decisions that impact the well-being of the students and staff of the Washoe County School District.”

Despite his resignation and the serious allegations against him, Kelley, without any shame, seems determined to win his old seat and his name remains on the ballot.

What would give Mr. Kelley such confidence?

A likely factor in his calculation that he can weather this storm came quickly after he resigned from the only other male member on board, Trustee Andrew Caudill, who said he would welcome Kelley back to the board if elected.

Another likely factor in his calculus is that he figures his Republican opponent Jeff Church is so undesirable to Democratic voters because of his conservative views. Church, a former Reno Police officer and Air Force veteran, has been one of the harshest critics of the school district and how it has spent revenue generated by the last sales tax increase, ballot initiative WC-1 in 2016.

While Mr. Church was not my first choice in the primary, he is the best choice in this general election. I do not agree with some of his views, however I believe he cares about his community and if elected, I believe his tenure on the board would be an extension of public service he has given throughout his life. 

Furthermore, I believe he would respect taxpayer dollars much more than Kelley, who has already demonstrated his feelings of entitlement by misusing travel expenses for activities that would appear designed to further his political career, as chronicled in a commentary I wrote for This Is Reno in July. Notice the arrogance of his responses when asked if he would continue to file frivolous travel reimbursements. 

I have seen some chatter on social media that perhaps Mr. Kelley could be persuaded to step down if elected in November in lieu of a more “acceptable candidate.” This is a ridiculous notion because, if elected, Kelley would never resign as his narcissism has been fully revealed by his troubling behavior and past statements.  

To those who are considering such an option, I must ask: Considering the seriousness of those allegations which forced him to resign, do you really want Mr. Kelley around our children?

I am a proud, progressive, life-long registered Democrat who has volunteered on and managed several state and local Democratic candidates. However, I believe it is foolish to support a morally flawed candidate just because they share your party affiliation, especially when that candidate lacks any decency. At the end of the day, I believe you have a duty to put your community or nation first above any political interests.

Take for example how back in 1991 when President George H. W. Bush denounced Louisiana Republican Gubernatorial Candidate and former Klu Klux Klan Leader David Duke by famously saying:

“When someone has a long record, an ugly record of racism and of bigotry, that record simply cannot be erased by the glib rhetoric of a political campaign. So, I believe David Duke is an insincere charlatan. I believe he’s attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana, I believe he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for.” 

I also think how blind partisanship affected the fate of the late Nevada State Sen. Bill Raggio, who had his leadership position stripped from him by his fellow Republicans because of his refusal to support the ultra-conservative Sharron Angle as the GOP U.S. Senate Candidate against former Sen. Harry Reid a decade ago. 

Upon his retirement, he warned his fellow Republicans that the party’s leadership had moved too far to the right and seemed to kick out those who didn’t totally agree with its positions.

Or even in this year’s election how The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed last year by several current and former Republicans, is actively working to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and defeat his supporters in the United States Senate.

This year, when we Democrats are counting on our Republican friends to put their country first by voting for former Vice President Joe Biden instead of misdirected party loyalty toward Trump, shouldn’t we as Democrats be setting that same example? To vote for decency instead of blind party loyalty? If we as Democrats do not stand for decency, then what do we stand for?

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William Puchert

I am embarrassed that Kelley’s name is among so many wonderful Democratic candidates I am proud to support on a slate card produced by the local county party. My fellow Democrats should also be embarrassed.

Willie Puchert is a local progressive and a former journalist.

Submitted opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article or letter to the editor here.

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