Henry Stern: The negative tone

Henry Stern, 27th District State Senator. Courtesy photo
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After I made my first run for office in 2016 during what turned out to be one of the nastiest elections in American history, I had high hopes this time might be different. In my dreams, candidates were going to shelve their raw ambition and put country first. The Democratic candidates in the race for Congress here in CA-25 got my hopes up even more when they pledged not to campaign negatively against each other.

I have been saddened to watch the tone shift to something ugly, as Katie Hill continues to rise and Bryan Caforio takes more aggressive swings at her daily.  I can remember the exact moment he switched. We were at the Democratic Convention in San Diego. The tide was turning, and it was looking like the newcomer, Katie Hill, might actually run away with the nomination.

Every young candidate faces this moment early in their career, where they’re presented with a choice: whether to win at all costs or to draw a line around some things they won’t say or do just to get elected–some basic rules of decency and honesty that cannot be broken, no matter the consequence.  I faced that moment myself. It’s a tough decision because honestly, negative campaigning often works.

As the tide turned in San Diego, an anonymous flyer began circulating around the Convention floor, trying to link Katie’s appearance on a local conservative radio show with an extremist militia group. The race got closer. In the weeks and months since, Caforio has amped up his mudslinging, as you’ve probably seen in your mailbox if you’re a Democrat.

Get past the silly images of Donald Trump superimposed on Katie Hill, and perhaps there is some kind of fundamental critique amidst the mud Bryan’s slinging: that Mrs. Hill is too bipartisan.  Too open to being friends with her neighbors who are Republicans. That she’ll sell Democrats out by not Trump-bashing enough. That she cannot shift the gun reform debate because she is a gun owner herself.

 These are exactly the reasons I believe Katie Hill is the right fit to represent the Santa Clarita, Simi and San Fernando valleys.  She can represent this entire community.  She knows that while it’s a fast growing region with a dynamic economy, this is still a place of small town values.  Here, how you treat your neighbor or those less fortunate may sometimes be a better measure of your character than what political party you vote for.

 That is how Katie Hill grew up.  Her dad, a Republican, is a cop. Her mom is a nurse.  She went to Saugus and Arroyo Seco. She’s one of the top female non-profit executives in California, leading the state’s largest homeless services organization.

 She’s a proud Democrat, who won’t back down to bullies.  But when it’s time to sit down at the table and heal this country through progress on gun violence, health care, immigration and climate change, she’ll be at that table, leading with poise and empathy, not just posturing to prove her partisanship.

So if you’re sick of politics as usual, and you’re looking for a breath of fresh air in our polluted politics, vote for Katie Hill on June 5th.

Henry Stern
27th District State Senator

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