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Did Little go too far in troops endorsement?
ERIC CORNELISON
Editor
RED OAK - Throughout the years candidates have used several tactics to win an election and with the Red Oak run-off election heating up, one candidate was using tactics which go against the Department of Defense directives.

Dawn Little, one of the candidates for a council seat for place 2 of the City of Red Oak, sent out a questionable endorsement when postcards portraying soldiers holding a sign which said 'Support Dawn Little, Red Oak City Council, Place II.'

According to Major Stewart Upton, Department of Defense spokesperson, 'This should not have been done.'

'We have yet to determine if this was the action of a unit or Photoshop.

'I (Major Upton) have not heard back from Ms. Little but that does not mean she has not attempted to get back with me regarding this matter.

'Any action taken by the department would be up to legal counsel after a thorough review of the facts regarding the mailing of this post card.'

Little had not answer the questions about the postcards in an email at the time of this publication, but did send a campaign statement which read, 'I am truly pleased with the Red Oak Record's interest in my candidacy for Red Oak City Council.

'I have gone to great lengths to make sure that my campaign and I remain clean, fair and positive in consideration of the citizens of Red Oak.

The Department of Defense directive instructs a soldier when they are prohibited from wearing their uniform.

One of those regulations states, 'During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.'

This directive was in direct conflict with what the soldiers where doing in the postcard which was sent out by the Little campaign.

'It is not the intent of the Department to have military members politicized in local political elections in which a voter may perceive the Army or the Department of Defense as being for one candidate or issue vice the other,' said Major Upton.

According to Judy Grant, secretary of the City of Red Oak, 'No requests for absentee ballots were received by the City of Red Oak.'

This raises the question if Little was being supported was being supported by the troops, why none of them requested an absentee ballot to vote for her.

Ben Goodwyn, incumbent for Place 2, also questioned Little's motives.

'I think it is cheap and tawdry to use our soldiers for political gains,' said Goodwyn.

Goodwyn is an honorably discharged veteran who served his country for five years in Vietnam as a Marine company commander.

Goodwyn also sent out a letter, not a postcard, but in his letter he only mentions briefly he served in the military and where he served.

Primarily, Goodwyn states what he has done for the community and his experience, not showing photographs of soldiers who support his campaign for city council because, as a veteran, he knows troops are not allowed to do this while in uniform.

Another directive from the Department of Defense states a soldier can, 'Register, vote and express his or her personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.'

In an attempt to straighten out the incident, Major Upton said, 'I made contact with Ms. Little and she wanted to confirm who I was and I have not heard back from her at this time.

'I did inform Ms. Little that the U.S. Army nor the DOD promotes or supports any candidates.'

This was all in response to another directive to troops which encourages members of the Armed Forces to carry out the obligations of citizenship but while on active duty tells members what they were prohibited from engaging in when it comes to certain political activities.

One of those directives states, 'A member on active duty shall not use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or out come of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others.'

Again, this was in direct conflict with what Little did in portraying troops supporting her campaign for city council.

'When our military men are halfway around the world engaging the enemies of our nation, their thoughts are on the unbearable heat, the sweat, the dirt and filth along with the ever present anxiety of being blown apart on the next patrol,' said Goodwyn.

'From my personal experience, they are not thinking of anything resembling a city council race in Red Oak, Texas, or any other place or race for that matter.

'They are thinking of survival while asking for our thoughts and prayers through simple messages as, support our troops.'

'I hope that your article can communicate to local voters that the communication of our non-partisan stance of the Department in not giving endorsement to one candidate also should not be inferred as being against that candidate, we are attempting to clarify the record,' said Major Upton.

The fact of the matter was no one was sure whether this was an authentic photograph or one superimposed with what Little wanted it to say.

'It appears the photograph may have come from a photograph which said support our troops, I can't say exactly,' said Goodwyn.

'I have an honorable record in the U.S. Marine Corps and since my record cannot be challenged by the Littles, they attempted to overcome this by sending out something questionable and no soldier would ever do because soldiers serve their country not for political reasons but because they have a higher calling and this calling is honor.'

Little wrote in her statement,'In regards to any military records or accomplishments, I pay tribute and honor to those service men and women who have served in America's armed forces.'

'I know their service and sacrifice allow for our country many liberties and freedom that we should all be thankful.

'My opportunity to represent this community will be decided by the good citizens of Red Oak.

'I LOOK FORWARD TO WINNING THIS RUNOFF ON JUNE 9.

'It will be an honor to serve as a Red Oak City Councilwoman.'

In Little's political expenditure's report filed with the Texas Ethic's Commission, she spent just a little over $1,080 to send out the postcards which amounted to approximately 340 cards being sent out to registered voters.

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