We confess to being somewhat uncomfortable over the past month or so as one outside political group – the Carolina Leadership Coalition (a political action committee) – used one of our news stories as the background in its television and online ads attacking Democratic state representative Ricky Hurtado: “Radical Ricky Hurtado” the ad repeatedly intoned.
Now, we have no brief for, or against, Rep. Hurtado, who was defeated in Tuesday election by former state Rep. Stephen Ross, a Republican, who reclaimed the seat for district #63 (representing eastern and northern Alamance County).
This newspaper gave up “endorsing” political candidates more than a decade ago; nor do we typically campaign against political candidates at election time.
It was not this newspaper that made any characterizations about Rep. Hurtado.
Oddly enough, there have been a few misinformed social media posts that apparently assumed that the story represented our position, rather than simply our usual endeavor to provide comprehensive local news.
Rather, this newspaper carried a news story (in print and online), back in December 2021, that quoted the Haw River mayor and various members of the Haw River town council who voiced very serious concerns about what they considered to be Rep. Hurtado’s failings to reach out to that municipality about what budget provisions they might be interested in having included in the state budget.
The town had serious needs – water/sewer lines and a new pump station – that would have cost millions, but the town got only $50,000 in state funding, which the town manager described as a “baseline” minimum of what most towns across the state received.
This year, the town rejoiced over $500,000 that state senator Amy Scott Galey took credit for getting into the budget for the town, to be used toward improving its water and sewer lines.
The mayor and town council members also criticized the representative last year for failing to return their phone calls once they discovered what they considered to be the funding oversight.
And the newspaper experienced a similar failing, when Hurtado did not respond to the newspaper’s request for a comment on the Haw River town council’s irritation over being “left out” of the state’s largesse.
Voiceovers in the political advertisements did not distinguish that the news story, shown very briefly on screen with our identifying Old English-style logo (for little more than second, if that), had dealt with Haw River’s complaints about the state representative who ostensibly represents that part of the county.
We don’t particularly disagree with the political group’s use of our story in their video; we only wish it had been more clear that it was merely news coverage, not our opinion.