THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Jessica Machado is a freelance writer and former contributor to the Fall River Herald News. She is also a former radio host at WSAR and political blogger.

 

 

While many of us, including myself, seem to be laser-focused on the presidential election, there are down-ballot races in our community that are equally as important.

The race here for 8th Bristol state representative is an interesting one. Incumbent Paul Schmid is a Democrat having served in this role for 10 years, and beyond that, I am not sure what else could be said about his tenure. Literally. I simply do not know one accomplishment Schmid has under his belt and quite honestly, there is a lot more we don't know.

Back in 2010, challenger Dave Dennis first disclosed his concerns about the validity of Schmid’s military service – more specifically, his veteran status. And while this inquiry, documented in a September 2010 Herald News article seemed to be overlooked, 10 years later the question lingers. (Editor's Note: WBSM has been provided with a 2010 letter from Veterans' Benefits Agent and Director of Veterans' Servies Manuel DaPonte, who confirmed that Schmid was honorably discharged in 1964 and "had earned sufficient active duty credits to entitle him to Veterans' Benefits and privileges.")

It would seem that a wartime veteran who holds office and is up for reelection would want voters to have 100 percent clarity on his veteran status. A simple statement, accompanied by a copy of his DD214, released to the press would give him a resounding end to the rumblings that have plagued him for the past decade. My question is: why hasn't he done that yet?

I am brought back to the 2005 Fall River mayoral race where George Jacome ran against favorite incumbent Ed Lambert. Jacome had a really strong ground game and was becoming extremely popular with voters in the months leading up to the election. Jacome had stated he was a graduate of Berklee College of Music as part of his resumé, but Lambert discovered that while Jacome did attend Berklee, he did not graduate. Any momentum in Jacome’s campaign was lost and his credibility was gone. Lambert won that election.

Has Schmid simply gone unchecked? Has he been able to tout his veteran status and because it is such a touchy subject, no one has asked for confirmation? One would think he would at the very least be able to properly spell “Sergeant” on his personal Facebook page or wear his military lapel pins properly.

Transparency and truth matter more now than ever in politics, and even more so with neighbors who hold elected office. Walking amongst constituents and being your true self is necessary. In a time of fake news, voters demand truth and, unfortunately, proof.

It’s less than a week before the election and State Representative Schmid, we need proof.

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest opinions from newsmakers and other people across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact tim@wbsm.com for more information. 

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