KRISKEY: The Secret Sauce? Reject the extremes.

Submitted by Jack Kriskey, Camillo Campaign Chairman

I have been working on and managing Republican campaigns since 2001 and have seen firsthand and up close how local politics has changed. I value a spirited debate, and for the first 15 years of my time working on campaigns, that was what I enjoyed. Candidates put forth their positions and debated them civilly, and neighbors gathered side by side at town events to support them. And when the campaigns were over, there was disappointment, but not anger.

Now, however, we are witnessing the disturbing rise of what might be called the politics of rage. We may look for the root cause in national politics, where partisan insults now take the place of civil debate; or in the rise of internet forums and social media, where angry words and intemperate rhetoric have become the norm, along with the demonization of anyone who dares disagree.

By and large, this is not the fault of the candidates themselves. Often, it’s just a few vocal agitators who get caught up in the excitement of the fight, become emboldened by the relative anonymity of the internet, and fall victim to an inflated view of their own self-importance. Local news blogs amplify this type of behavior, which, in turn, only encourages the perpetrators.

Look past the ugly rhetoric, and you will see so much common ground here in town. We are a small, tight-knit community, home to a wealth of ideas on how to make Greenwich an even better place for us all. We may have different opinions on how best to get there. But there should be no place for personal attacks on anyone because of a simple difference of opinion. We have far too much work to do.

The good news is that in this campaign, these tactics, and the “politics of rage” that employs them, have been soundly rejected. Fred Camillo stayed the course, ignoring the ugly, petty and sometimes childish attacks made by the usual suspects. Behind the scenes, Fred and the rest of the campaign team made a decision not to take the bait. Though some encouraged Fred to call out the bad actors and to publicly engage, Fred stayed positive instead, and kept the focus on the future.

My hope is that Fred’s campaign style was noticed, not by just his supporters, but by those who engage in rage, angry rhetoric, and negativity. I hesitate to let out our “Secret Sauce,” but for the benefit of our town, and in hopes of lowering the temperature in politics, this is it: Reject the extremes. Tell me what you’re for. Run a clean campaign, and may the best candidate win so we can get to work…together.

Jack Kriskey, Camillo Campaign Chairman