GOSHEN — The Democratic candidate for Goshen clerk-treasurer is facing criticism from his Republican rival for using a quote from a newspaper editorial that she says is meant to look like an endorsement.
Adam Scharf is running for clerk-treasurer against Angie McKee, who was appointed to the position at the end of 2016 to finish the term of the previous clerk. Scharf is currently a city councilman.
McKee said Tuesday that Scharf broke the 2019 Fair Campaign Pledge that he and other candidates under the Working For Goshen banner signed in September. She claimed that he purposefully misused a quote from an Oct. 27, 2016 Goshen News editorial, removing it from the context of an editorial that questioned a list of budget cuts he had proposed.
Scharf provided a copy of the campaign mailer later Tuesday, along with a statement saying the quote is meant to show his traits and skills. The quote follows statements endorsing Scharf from fellow Democratic Councilwoman Julia King and former Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers.
“Despite drawing some disagreements from his fellow (council) members and our editorial staff, Scharf’s detailed attention to the city’s budget process should be applauded,” the quote reads on the campaign postcard, which is identified as being paid for by Scharf for Clerk-Treasurer. “Our city and this community benefits from caring individuals like Scharf who go above and beyond to ensure Goshen’s future is as vibrant as its past.”
McKee pointed to a recent editorial in the newspaper calling attention to the use of the quote. The Saturday editorial states that some people may construe the quotation as an endorsement from the paper, but it’s not.
Scharf said the postcard was sent out Oct. 4 to every residential mailbox in Goshen.
“I proudly stand by it,” he said.
‘Violated campaign pledge’
McKee also pointed out that the campaign pledge Scharf signed includes promises to “conduct my campaign accurately and honestly” and not to “use or permit the use of any campaign material or advertisement that uses quotations or images taken out of context.” It also includes a promise to publicly rebuke any individual or group whose activities on their behalf directly or indirectly violate the pledge.
McKee and fellow We Are Goshen candidates called on Scharf to acknowledge that he “blatantly violated” the campaign pledge and asked that the other candidates publicly repudiate Scharf.
“If the signing of the Fair Campaign Pledge is to hold any value, it requires that candidate Scharf and the team of Working For Goshen candidates follow through with publicly repudiating candidate Scharf,” they wrote in a statement shared with the Elkhart Truth. “If this action is not condemned by the Working For Goshen candidates, the Fair Campaign Pledge can only be interpreted as being signed for political reasons.”
Scharf responded by saying the postcard “shares with voters from across the political spectrum what traits and skills I can bring to the Clerk-Treasurer’s role by providing accurate quotes from three sources: a Republican, a Democrat, and the non-partisan Goshen News editorial board.”
He also said, “I trust Goshen voters to form their own conclusions from open and accurate information. That is what my campaign is about because that is what the Clerk-Treasurer’s office is supposed to be about.”
On behalf of the Working For Goshen candidates, Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said they will discuss it at their next meeting and respond if they feel it’s necessary. He also said he didn’t believe the postcard violated the campaign pledge since it included the date of the editorial that the quote was taken from.
He added that the newspaper was right to clarify that it hasn’t endorsed any candidates.
“As this is my fourth election, I fully understand how stressful things can get, especially close to election day,” Stutsman said. “I am grateful for the discourse that this democratic process allows for and the Working for Goshen team will continue to make our case that our focus is on our community and will continue to work for Goshen with and for everyone.”