Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Greg Neitzert has a timely post on his facebook page this afternoon defending City Councilor Christine Erickson for exercising her constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech.
Why did Neitzert think this was necessary? Because there are those who don’t want Erickson expressing her support for candidates for office, such as when Erickson supported Alex Jensen who is running for the at-large Sioux Falls City Council race.
In this case, long ago former Sioux Falls Mayor Rick Knobe went after Erickson because he knows that her support matters to people in Sioux Falls. Because in a government body that’s as fraught with drama as the Sioux Falls City Council can be, Erickson has been a steady voice of reason.
If Knobe is so concerned about Erickson supporting a candidate, my question is, why doesn’t he do something about it himself? Because it comes off as a bit hypocritical. Rick purports to publicly judge the ethics of a sitting elected official while he sits on the South Dakota State Board of Elections that actually has the ability to propose laws regarding elected officials.
Instead of opining and defaming Councilor Erickson, Knobe could actually work to draft potential legislation.
Why doesn’t he do it? I suspect he knows that he’d have trouble getting any proposal for legislation to squelch the free speech rights of elected officials past his own board much less the entirety of the state legislature.
He can squeak and squawk all he wants, but when the rubber hits the road, no court is going to uphold limiting people’s First Amendment rights. Whether Knobe likes it or not, the Constitution trumps whatever limitations he wants to see on the rights of those he disagrees with.
And in this case, as Councilman Neitzert advocates – it’s time to stop the smear campaign against Councilor Erickson and time to stand with Christine.