Reading the headline, my heart sank. But when I actually read the article, the situation didn't seem as shocking. In 2009, the candidate got into a fight, he knocked something over, he yelled, he left and he came back and the police were there.
The case was dropped and the record was expunged and sealed. It was dismissed, and no charges were pressed.
My gut instinct was to defend my preferred candidate, but then my friend surprised me and said, "another attempted political hit job from establishment Democrats."
She sent me a follow up that showed that a powerful Democratic Party leader held a press conference to "reveal" this information. This leader was behind in the polls and it became clear that it was an attempt at sabotage.
"We've seen this happen before," my friend said.
The we started thinking about it. Since 2016, I've watched this happen to three local candidates that I can remember off the top of my head.
The setup is always the same: a reformer candidate is doing surprisingly well in the polls. They are working class or closely aligned with working-class organizations, they are an activist, they are promising to stand up to power.
One was a tenant leader with a long history of fearlessness when it came to developers and REBNY. Another was a declared Democratic Socialist. Now, a notable activist and police reformer.
Each "reveal" was deep in the person's past. And each was actually a common experience of their demographic: a victim of sexual assault, having to testify in court to save a family member from a death sentence, having a fight and getting the cops called on you as a black person.
Situations that many of us will never experience and therefore never really understand. These issues are the kinds of trials that are painful to endure and are experienced more frequently by folks who suffer from racism, sexism, poverty, and living in challenging neighborhoods.
If we want to have people in office who have experienced the problems that need fixing in our communities, who really understand how broken systems work from first-hand experience, then we also need to be more forgiving.
We can no longer expect or beg for perfect, plastic candidates if we want to change society for the better. We have to allow people to have had struggles and to have overcome them.
I would rather have someone in office who has experienced hardship, faced it, worked through it and overcome it, than someone who judges and smears others for their circumstances