Luke Pevreal is a political science senior. He wrote this piece as a response to “Letter to the Editor: Abrianna Torres and Cherisse Sweeney are wolves in sheeps clothing.” The views expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Facts are stubborn things.
Yet today in 2020, it seems the word “fact” itself has become somewhat of an abstraction — prone to be weaponized by anyone wishing to denigrate someone else they believe to be wrong. Unfortunately, in an era of information overload, it’s becoming increasingly hard to determine what is fact and what is false.
Still, we have a few guides to determine when someone is misleading us. There is, of course, outright fabrication being the most blatant of lies, when someone simply makes something up to push whatever they’re trying to sell.
The most dangerous lies, however, are the little ones: The ones that wildly mischaracterize and distort reality, but do so through omission, exaggeration and minimization.
When I saw the alarmingly personal attacks levied by establishment voices against SLO City Council and mayoral candidates Abrianna Torres and Cherisse Sweeney, respectively, it was immediately clear what tactics were at play: deflection, omission and minimization.
We all love SLO, and despite being a British-Australian international student myself, I immediately felt at home when I arrived on the Central Coast in freshman year. But it would be naive to suggest that it doesn’t have its problems.
Do we want to talk about the $175 million in unfunded pension liabilities SLO owes to CalPERS, or do we want to smear two bright business-women who want to fix it? Do we want to discuss the erosion of community safety, or publicly share the home address of a candidate with two grade school-aged children? Do we want to reflect on the alarming and, frankly, heartbreaking number of homeless people on the streets, or do we want to promote spurious conspiracy theories about hidden agendas and silent coups being orchestrated through municipal elections?
The North Korean justice system is built on a principle known as “three generations of punishment.” If you’re related to a dissident or enemy of the state within three generations of your position in the family, you too are guilty, and will be sent to a forced labor camp to repay the state for a family member’s crimes – even if you’re innocent. In America, we thankfully have no such standard and judge each individual by their own actions.
But for the sake of argument, if Abrianna and Cherisse’s affiliations give away who they are, then let’s dive a little deeper. Abrianna’s website says she’s pro-choice and endorsed by Rick Stollmeyer, founder of MindBody, a registered Democrat who’s also an endorser of, oh — the incumbent Mayor Harmon. If we visit Cherisse Sweeney’s website, we see an endorsement from Blake Beltram, another prominent businessman who claims to “have never NOT voted Democrat.” Weird, ‘closet Republicans’ don’t usually have such grassroots bipartisan support behind them.
Furthermore, if we insist on judging each person by who they’re connected to, why not apply this logic to all sides? The incumbent mayor and several members of City Council are affiliated with or endorsed by the SLO Democratic Socialists of America, a group that dismisses the 100 million+ people murdered by socialism during the 20th Century, many of whom were people of color. Should we assume that the Mayor is a Communist plant sent personally by the ghost of Chairman Mao to lead a Marxist revolution in the United States? Of course not, nor should we. I’m sure the mayor and every City Councilmember simply want the best for their families and their community. I think everyone else does, too. So wouldn’t it be better to debate policy, rather than personality?
The fact is that the personal, incendiary attacks on Abrianna and Cherisse are simply a deflection to distract voters from the current leadership’s inability to solve the city’s problems. These two candidates are experienced, inclusive and innovative thinkers who bring real solutions to the table. Whether it’s restoring economic vitality, cutting red tape to allow more affordable home building or their sincere commitment to unifying our community, Abrianna Torres and Cherisse Sweeney are the best choice for students and soon-to-be graduates who wish to live affordably in the town we love. The status quo isn’t working. In a time of economic uncertainty and political polarization, let’s take a chance on some fresh ideas.
Facts are stubborn things, and it’s time for a change. Vote for Abrianna Torres and Cherisse Sweeney for SLO by Nov. 3.