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September surprise; Ballot furor pits insiders vs. outsiders.

COLUMN: In our opinion

In political jargon, an "October surprise" is a campaign bombshell dropped on behalf of one candidate so close to Election Day that opponents can't adequately respond. It could be a deceptive spin on a candidate's record or a scandal from a candidate's past. It might be a dark secret involving a close associate or campaign donor. It could be some staged or policy initiative timed to distract from discussion of actual issues.

In Worcester this year, it's a September surprise - the furor in the past few days over whether the preliminary election ballot should indicate which City Council candidates are seeking re-election.

The city charter is somewhat murky on the point, but the politics behind the furor are not. In most years, elected officials would be the first to protest if the ballot failed to note their incumbent status, with all the experience and clout that presumably entails. This year, an undercurrent of anti-incumbent sentiment has turned that truism on its head: The loudest protests are coming from outsiders who want in.

Frankly, if the fact that a candidate is or is not an incumbent is that candidate's chief claim on residents' votes, it is a paltry claim indeed. By the same token, voters who need a ballot notation to remind them which candidates have been on the council for the past two years or more are ill-prepared to exercise their franchise.

Nonetheless, as a public service, here is a list of sitting councilors voters might like to clip and bring to the polls: Paul P. Clancy Jr., Barbara G. Haller, Dennis L. Irish, Konstantina B. Lukes, Philip P. Palmieri, Michael C. Perotto, Joseph M. Petty, Gary Rosen, Frederick C. Rushton, Joffrey A. Smith, Kathleen M. Toomey.

Whether that's a positive or negative, we'll let voters decide.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 8, 2007
Words:301
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