PULASKI — As we head closer to Election Day, we reach a time of year where the political divide becomes more noticeable and the level of discourse grows a little bit louder.
Look at current events. Turn on the news. Research political candidates.
Opposing viewpoints and voices make it increasingly difficult to decipher the truth. Differences of opinion make our system work. They’re invaluable. Holding elected officials accountable is essential to a properly functioning government.
But equally important are facts. It is utterly irresponsible to lose sight of that reality or to give credence to mistruths that serve no purpose other than to advance individual agendas — even on editorial pages.
I reference this because a recent opinion piece that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times made several inaccurate statements regarding the responsiveness of my office on a community matter regarding public transportation. While relying on only one side of a factually questionable letter, Times editorial page editor Jerry Moore failed to confirm the accuracy of the claims.
Instead, he produced a column stating that:
n (My office) “... ignored repeated requests for attention to an important issue.”
n “No one from Barclay’s office ever replied to these residents.”
n “He failed to reply to a concern expressed by his constituents.”
These inaccuracies weren’t stated as opinions. These were presented as facts. And all are patently false.
My staff and I are well aware of the public transportation needs of our region, and my office had multiple, direct conversations with the individual — and many others — who expressed concerns. In fact, a letter from the person who inspired the column’s falsehoods plainly states, “thank you for getting back to us about the information we have been sending to your office.”
In addition, improvements have already been made to resolve local transportation issues. Collaborative efforts between federal, state and local entities have produced tangible results that all stakeholders — most importantly concerned residents — have applauded and gladly welcomed. Unfortunately, that information was conveniently left out of the original letter to the editor, and it apparently wasn’t worth contacting me or my office to verify.
Working for the people of the 120th Assembly District to the best of our ability is what my staff and I try to do every day. During my tenure in public service, helping constituents and the community has been our highest priority.
We reach out and respond to people every day. It’s our responsibility; it’s our job; and we take it seriously.
I hope the Watertown Daily Times takes its own outreach more seriously so that future inaccuracies might be avoided. All it takes is a phone call.
Will Barclay is the state Assembly minority leader representing the 120th Assembly District.