To The Editor:
The 2014 Seaway Festival Parade was a beautiful event filled with the best bands and float designs in the North Country. No one expected anything less. For nearly two hours families and friends lined Ford Street and brought a festive atmosphere to downtown Ogdensburg that demonstrated the best of the city and gave the community a sense of pride.
But part of this year’s event left a sour taste in my mouth. In a move that veered sharply away from tradition Republican Assembly candidate John L. Byrne, who is challenging Democratic Assembly-member Addie J. Russell in the 116th district, marched in the parade, directly contradicting the rules.
Mr. Byrne’s actions flies in the face of the organizer’s rule which is stated, in capital letters, on their website: “Political Campaigning of ANY TYPE is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Any person found to be in violation will be asked to leave the line of march. ONLY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CURRENTLY HOLDING OFFICE are allowed to participate in that venue and you are asked to refrain from campaign activities.”
Instead, while watching the parade, I was shocked when I heard Mr. Byrne’s name announced from the podium, along with a plug for his campaign. Shouldn’t he have been asked to leave the march?
Democratic candidates were hurt when they respected the wishes of the parade organizers.
Congressional candidate Aaron Woolf, who has already participated in the Morristown and Norwood 4th of July parades, would certainly have enjoyed the opportunity to march. Other candidates from across the county would likewise have appreciated the exposure.
The Democratic candidates played by the rules. Mr. Byrne and the Republicans did not.
I’ve been assured by organizers that the mistake will not be made again.
But I hope you’ll remember this come November. If Republicans will break the rules right here at home, where we can all see them, what will happen when they get to Albany - or to Washington?
Or, to quote from one of the parade organizers who felt betrayed by Mr. Bryne: “If circumventing rules is part of their political ideals then I hope they never get in office.”
Ogdensburg Democratic Committee Member.