Let’s start here. Everyone has the right to run for elective office. But if you run, you ought to be honest about who you are and what you believe.
But there’s a movement among adherents of QAnon conspiracy theories to run for local office while concealing their extreme ideologies. And some of it is happening right here in Vermont. Voters need to watch for the warning signs of a stealth candidacy, and news media need to be more diligent in their often formulaic coverage of local elections.
The biggest tell that you’ve got a QAnon type running for school board or select board is a complete absence of any policy positions. Instead, the candidate emphasizes family, community ties and activities.
Take, for example, Ingrid Lepley of Tinmouth. In a social media announcement of her candidacy for the Mill River Unified Union School Board, she wrote paragraph after paragraph about her participation in numerous community activities while saying little to nothing about education policy. She offered a couple of bromides about loving her community and the local schools, and hoping they “continue to grow and do well.”
Meanwhile, she reportedly ran an online jewelry design business that featured numerous pieces that seemed to signal QAnon adherence. She used coded phrases and symbols from the QAnon lexicon. And some of her customers specifically praised her for selling QAnon jewelry. She has apparently scrubbed her site of the more overtly coded pieces, but there are still large quantities of “Q” and rabbit designs. (“Follow the white rabbit” is one of Q’s dog-whistle slogans.)
After the jump: Advice for the news media.Continue reading