Campaign Dollars Don't Always Reflect Special Interests

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Money talks, but what is it saying?

In this week's edition of the Payson Roundup, we chose to publish the names of all the people who contributed to the Payson mayoral and councilor campaigns during this election. At first, page 7A might look like nothing more than a laundry list of names and numbers, but where people put their money says more than anything else in this campaign.

Taking out your pocketbook is often more difficult and more intentional than the mark you make on the ballot in the privacy of the voting booth, or in the case of this mail-in election, from the privacy of your kitchen table.

When people give money to a candidate, it is an investment in that person. They believe that candidate will look out for their best interests and will give them a return on their money.

These numbers are public record. We did not have to dig for them. They were readily available from the Town of Payson and as easy to acquire as walking up to the counter at Town Hall and putting out our hand.

Many people will look at these numbers and read into them. They may notice a block of real estate agents or business people contributing to one candidate or another.

But we see something more than self-interest here.

We see people willing to participate in the democratic process, and we applaud them.

These people were willing to do more than just vote. Many of the people who contributed financially to the town council campaigns, also gave of their time. They went door to door. They passed out fliers and pounded signs into the ground. They organized debates and public forums.

While there is often self-interest involved in making a campaign contribution, more often in a town like Payson, those dollars are a vote of confidence for a friend.

A campaign contribution is not always a business deal.

While a candidate's stance on an issue is important, often the thoughts that will sway a voter at the last minute are the small things that people share living in a small town. We may remember when our children played together in Little League and what kind of sportsman that candidate was after the team lost. Or we might have a negative memory of one candidate, years ago, snubbing us at a fund-raiser, before that person had any idea of running for office.

While we are not naive about the darker side of campaign contributions, often in a small town election, the money we donate to a campaign is simply a statement of personal trust built over years of living in the same community.

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