Valley Viewpoints: Campaign tool?

by Judy Prosser of Hannibal

I walked into our local library last week to find a huge sign with Senator Patty Ritchie’s name prominently displayed. The sign blocked access to the aisle.

It was part of the “Women of Distinction” display that her office has rotating through local libraries.

As a long-time supporter of women’s rights and women’s history, I had no problem with the historical portion of the display, which included posters of prominent New York women in history and some books of information about these women on the table.

What I did object to was the blatant use by Senator Ritchie to promote herself. I know that the incumbent always has an advantage in gaining exposure for their name, but this was over the line.

Senator Ritchie’s name was displayed more prominently than Jan Rebeor’s, the current year’s honoree, and it was Ritchie’s photo on the cover of the pamphlets for the current year honoree and nominees.

If this display was for the purpose of recognizing these women, why would she put her own picture on the cover and not the honoree?

I did a little bit of googling, and found that the pamphlet format was the same as that used by Majority Leader Dean Skelos for state awards with a big exception. Dean Skelos left Lady Liberty as the cover, while Ritchie substituted her own face on the cover.

I think that tells us who this exhibit is for — certainly not the honorees or the taxpayers.

The presentation would also lead one to believe that this award was entirely Mrs. Ritchie’s idea and sponsored by her. It is actually a program of the New York State Senate that has been in place since 1998 and senators in every district do the same thing.

It is interesting that while this award was also done by Ritchie in 2011, we did not see such a display make the library rounds then. I also wonder why the schedule for the exhibit on her web site includes only Oswego County libraries when her district (and the nominees) include Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Could it be that last year Mrs. Ritchie was not running for re-election against Amy Tresidder, a strong woman from Oswego County?

I also wonder if I am I correct in assuming that it is our taxpayer money that is paying for both the production of the posters and the staff time to move it from locations to location?

I question it because this seems as much a campaign tool as an educational piece. Just wondering…

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