Political campaigning can be a rough and tough business, but in the Town of Lancaster, things have gotten downright dirty.
Town Board members often trade what many residents call unfair, inappropriate, politically motivated jabs. But in the past few weeks, at least two mailings and an Internet Web site have upset town politicians and taxpayers. The information contained in them is deceitful, hurtful and inaccurate, they say.
Take the case of postcards circulating around town with Councilwoman Donna G. Stempniak's home address.
An organization called Concerned Women for Lancaster sent the material, which claims that new homeowners aren't paying their share of school taxes and that existing homeowners are subsidizing real estate lawyers such as Mark Montour, a Democratic Town Board member up for re-election. The postcard also associates Montour with higher taxes.
The problem is that Montour and Stempniak, also a Democrat, are political allies and friends. Furthermore, it seems that no one in town has heard of Concerned Women for Lancaster. And the only way Stempniak found out about the postcards is that one happened not to have an address label.
"It was marked 'Return to Sender' and came to my house because my address was on it," said Stempniak, who has since received at least two more of the rogue postcards through the mail. "I don't have any knowledge of this organization, and using my home address is unconscionable."
Mel Brown of Genesee Street was fuming during Monday's Town Board meeting over a mailing he and many of his neighbors received that was aimed at Republican Councilwoman Georgette F. Pelletterie. Also a Lancaster School Board member, Pelletterie is up for re-election to the Town Board.
The flier came from an organization called Citizens and Teachers for Responsible Government. It claims, among other things, that decisions and votes cast by Pelletterie on both levels are "compromised due to the fact that she cannot be in two places at one time."
The unsigned letter carries a Rochester postmark, he said.
"This letter is garbage," Brown said. "And whoever sent it is a real coward for not signing it. How do you make those kinds claims and not sign it? And why would somebody from Rochester even be concerned about what goes on in Lancaster?"
Supervisor Robert H. Giza, who has an unofficial, not-so-flattering Web site dedicated to him called "Gizawaga," said he'd like to see both Democrats and Republicans on the Town Board "denounce any of this stuff that's not signed."
"You can say anything about anyone, but not signing it or using someone's home address without their permission is a gutless way of doing things," Giza said.
"We need to say we don't condone this kind of activity and tell residents if it's not signed, don't believe it, because it's probably unfair information."