By Sam Shelenberger, Editor in Chief
On Oct. 30, less than a week before a pivotal election for the PENNCREST school board, numerous voters received a flyer in the mail that has confounded the community. The flyer states various viewpoints about Jeff Brooks and Michael Muckinhaupt, two of the candidates who are running for the board. It is signed by the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA).
“We are asking you to vote for Jeff Brooks who is one of our own for PENNCREST School Board,” the letter states. “His election will determine how many young individuals will join [the DSA’s] ranks in the future.”
The flyer claims that Brooks believes students should “…learn that guns do not belong in the hands of ordinary people,” and that students “…should be able to choose their own sex not forced to live with what was not their choice.”
Brooks responded on the Jeff Brooks for PENNCREST Facebook page: “This pink letter is filled with lies being spread both via regular mail and email filled with nonsense from people not courageous enough to put their own names on it. I am disappointed that the cowards who put this together could not come up with factual reasons not to vote for me, there is a case to be made there, but they resorted to trying to bring out the worst in our community by bringing up stereotypes of others in their poorly written smear campaign.”
Muckinhaupt, who is running for a two-year term as an independent, questioned the timing of the flyer on his PENNCREST Facebook page: “It’s no coincidence that the mailers were delivered just after the forum that occurred at Cambridge Springs Elementary School [on Oct. 29] where it could’ve been addressed.”
Many questions have been raised concerning the origins of the flyer. Some believe the flyer was created by Republicans in an attempt to steer voters away from voting for Brooks and Muckinhaupt. The Crawford County Republican Party denies any part in the mailing.
“The Republican Committee of Crawford County did not, and I stress did not authorize anyone to send this,” said Jody Leech, county chairman via a Facebook post. “Our committee, who I speak for, totally rejects this kind of mailing and denounces it.”
(Update at 7:23 a.m. The following message was received from the DSA of Erie: “According to our member rolls, Jeff and Mike are not dues-paying members of the DSA…our chapter has nothing to do with posting those flyers.”)
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School