Sarah Caron earned herself a promotion—or perhaps a remotion?—from Watertown voters last night. Fired just three months ago from her position as assistant city engineer (salary $55,488–$62,489), Caron got 2,557 of her Watertown neighbors (52.38% of those voting) to make her their new mayor (salary $80,437.20).
Caron sounded appropriately positive last night, practical notes with the media, saying she wants to meet with local developers right away to assure them she’s ready to work with them, not retaliate against them as the man she defeated, outgoing mayor Steve Thorson, alleged she would during the campaign.
Caron also spoke the appropriate positive words about her defeated opponent:
I know that Steve loves Watertown and he poured his whole life into being the mayor, and I want to thank him for his dedicated service to the city if Watertown as councilman for four years and as mayor for four years. He really gave it his all and to his credit, he deserves a huge word of thanks for that, and I give it to him, and I appreciate everything that he did [Mayor-Elect Sarah Caron, transcription of audio, in Mike Tanner, “Sarah Caron Elected Watertown Mayor,” KWAT Radio, 2017.06.20].
For his part, Mayor Thorson goes out sounding a little less classy:
When contacted, Thorson, who earned 44.41 percent of the vote, said he hopes Caron can move the baton of leading the city forward.
“I certainly hope she can do a better job than I did. She seems to feel as though she can do that,” he said [Dan Crisler, “Caron Wins Watertown Mayoral Election over Incumbent Thorson,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.06.20].
Thorson’s Facebook kiss-off isn’t much better:
Complaining about “extremes” by some unnamed “they” seems odd for Thorson, who enjoyed at least tens of thousands of dollars worth of campaign intervention by Rushmore PAC, the out-of-town partisan campaign fund operated by South Dakota Republican Party chairman and Dakota Dunes bail bonds operator Dan Lederman. Rushmore PAC blanketed Watertown with pro-Thorson postcards, radio ads, newspaper ads, and canvassers. Thorson said he had nothing to do with Rushmore PAC’s activity in Watertown:
I have received requests for more information regarding the contributions from the Rushmore PAC and would like to respond to accusations that I am somehow responsible for the formation and contributions to this PAC. These accusations are completely false. From what I understand and gather, this PAC is involved with a number of local people that fear retaliation from the public in both their professional and personal lives to give their support to our campaign. If any of you follow social media you can attest that some comments can be quite harsh and with family and friends at arms length it can be a touchy subject. We have many people that have contributed directly to our campaign and thank those who support us directly and indirectly however we have no control over the content of this PAC. From what I have seen the PAC has not been negative and we hope their message stays with the positive direction we are running this campaign [Steve Thorson, “Statement Regarding The Rushmore PAC,” campaign Facebook post, 2017.06.15].
Rushmore PAC drew a strong rebuke from local newspaper publisher Mark Roby, who criticized “anonymous outside influencers” for playing D.C.-style politics in a local election. Last night 52% of voters seconded that rebuke of Lederman, his outside interference, and his political money laundering.
Related Blogosphere Snark: Rushmore PAC crony and sometime employee Pat Powers has used the issue of outside dark money to criticize public figures whom he doesn’t like. But with his buddy Dan Lederman using dark money and out-of-town influence to sway a local election, Powers finds himself obliged to equivocate about the proper role of outsiders in our elections.