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To the editor:

In one of the upcoming city races, one of our local legislators told a candidate that he would, according to his personal convictions, be supporting her in the election. However, he would only do it privately.It seems that he had aspirations for higher political office and although this was a non-partisan race, he felt that to back the candidate in public might hurt his political future, since the candidate was not affiliated with his particular party.

Three weeks before the election, this legislator called the candidate and regretfully said that he would be coming out in public support of the other candidate. I spoke with him and was told that he was receiving great pressure, if not from the "official party," in his words, from "those same faces."

He was given the impression that he would either publicly support the opposing candidate or his future with the party was in serious jeopardy. In essence, political blackmail.

He was torn, but in the end, honesty, integrity and moral courage were compromised for "loyalty" to the party and people that held his destiny in their hands. To me, the implication of what happened here is terrifying.

After my experience, I am led to believe that our political process is tainted with influence peddling and heavily controlled by those in power on the local as well as the national level.

I am frightened about where the current system is taking us. These powerful bodies, through their influence and financial support, determine who will and who will not have a chance to be successful in running for political office.

Shame on us for letting it happen. It's time that we as citizens wake up and face our responsibilities. Every citizen, no matter what his social or financial standing, has one vote and one vote only. Prominent parties and people can only control the election process if we allow them to do so.

There is no need to legislate limiting terms of political office. We can do that by exercising our right to vote. This election, let's study the issues; get to know the candidates. Let's not be unduly influenced by endorsements or carried away by a lot of expensive campaign hype. And most importantly, let's get out and vote. The system can be changed, but it's up to us.

Jan Clark