Moscow has had its share of emotional elections and spirited campaign seasons.
Recent memory (or perhaps ancient, given the city’s somewhat transient nature) unearths an oddly predictable ebb and flow with regard to city leadership in Moscow.
The early 2000s were the domain of candidates backed by the Moscow Civic Association, whose mission was to promote open government, participation of residents and “progressive and sustainable development.”
By 2007, candidates backed by the pro-growth, limited-government Greater Moscow Alliance began to win seats on the council, the zenith in 2014, when a progressive member’s departure from the council, in the words of this newspaper, “marked the end of a chapter in local governance — a period characterized by many ... as dominated by anti-growth views and too much focus on social and environmental issues.”
Just five years removed from 2014, and we have a majority of council members who would be considered more progressive than not.
The point? In the past 20 years of city elections, leadership has swayed from left to right, more progressive to more conservative. The elections have been spirited, but never ugly. Punches thrown? Perhaps. Above the belt? Almost always.
As politics on the national scene have become nasty, partisan, and negative, Moscow, with its nonpartisan city council races, has largely managed to rise above the fray.
Thus the question: Did Moscow’s history of civility in the face of political differences suddenly end Wednesday night when hateful words appeared on the political signs of several of this year’s candidates?
Knowing Moscow, the answer is no.
The vandalism — perhaps depending on your social media bubble — was the dastardly work of a political opponent, an act born of “anti-Mexican” feelings (as one reader informed us), a protest directed (not directly, but by convenient association) at the pastor of a local church, or a shining example of jedi strategy; self-inflicted damage to increase a candidate’s own name recognition.
Police are investigating the crimes. Many residents may have their theories — conspiracy or otherwise — but these were crimes perpetrated by criminals, who alone should bear the brunt of blame and responsibility for the actions.
Until we know more — and even if we don’t — Moscow residents should do what they do best when it comes to elections. Learn about the candidates. Meet the candidates. Question the candidates.
The Daily News has plans to cover upcoming forums and publish candidate profiles with the hope residents can identify the candidates who best mirror their values and appear best ready to lead.
Your vote — or your judgement of any candidate — should not hinge on, as one City Council candidate put it, “the malicious, hateful and unacceptable” act of vandalism of this past week.