Social media fuels ‘messy’ campaigns

BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
DAYTONA TIMES

“Messy, messy, messy.’’ That’s how one Volusia County voter described the recent election campaigns.

“It was pretty bad,” Samantha Mason told the Daytona Times.

Signs were knocked over, stolen and defaced. Social media spars over who received campaign funds from whom and who slung the most dirt were not hard to find, especially in the Volusia County At-Large race.

According to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center published in October, cell phones and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing an increasingly prominent role in how voters get political information and follow election news.

Daytona Beach was no different.

Northey’s website hacked
Facebook was the home of an online attack of Patricia Northey whose website PatNorthey.com was completely shut down three days before the election and replaced by a huge markout stating that the page was not paid for. Northey lost to Joyce Cusack on Tuesday for the county’s at-large seat.

Volusia Council member Joshua Wagner shared publicly on his personal Facebook page of the site: “Bahahaha….Pat Northey’s website is down for non-payment. Maybe she should have used one of her double pensions you are paying for to cover the bill. Guess she has been too busy picking on people and being a bully. Go to her website for a good laugh…http://patnorthey.com.”

Comments supporting Northey were not hard to find.

“Thank you for all you do and have done to make Volusia County a great and beautiful place to live and to visit. Thank you for doing such an exceptional job for the people. You are an amazing person,” posted Sandra W.

“I try to learn from each experience: My mental note for future campaigns – pay for services and don’t accept in-kind contributions whereby others can make you look foolish,” added Greg W. of Ormond Beach.

Plays out on Facebook
Northey addressed the website fiasco by sharing a letter to the public on her personal Facebook page addressed to Volusia County Democratic Party Vice Chair Jean Jenner. He noted on his Facebook page that he was hosting Northey’s campaign website page, however took it down because Northey did not list the page as an “in-kind donation” on any of her campaign treasurer reports.

The letter to Jenner partially read, “I am disappointed that you took down my website and replaced it with a notice saying I had failed to pay. Jean, you know better than that. Please put back my website or at least take down what you have posted. You know how damaging such falsehoods can be to a person’s reputation. You can’t unring the bell, but you can stop the spread…. I have served this county well and long, longer that anyone. I have served effectively and honorably. It’s just with you, Jean, but you may want to consider whether length of service, whether effectiveness, and whether honor count for anything.”

The website was not restored.

More mess
On and off the computer or cell phone, there were other messy parts to this election cycle. Signs for council members Cusack and Northey were slammed to the ground and some just disappeared.

A photo of one of Northey’s campaign signs made the rounds on Twitter. The photo showed her sign with a hole blasted right through it.

Cusack also bore the brunt of sign abuse. She told the Daytona Times that people were “taking signs down as fast as I was putting them up.”

The Election Day winner also added that was “One message that I want to leave as far as signs are concerned. Signs don’t vote. People do.”

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