Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson took the rare step of attacking a city commissioner this week on Facebook, using a paper analyzing the 2018 city commission campaign written by Western Kentucky University students as a basis to label Dana Beasley Brown as “deceptive” and “radical.”
Beasley Brown called the attack a “slander ... I had no knowledge of these (candidate) profiles and had nothing to do with creating them,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
Beasley Brown declined to further comment beyond her statement posted on Facebook.
In another statement posted on Facebook, the students who wrote the campaign analysis of Beasley Brown’s successful city commission race in 2018 said the paper was a requirement for a campaign management class and that Beasley Brown had no knowledge of “this paper and was not consulted on the writing, editing or submission of this assignment.”
The students were volunteers on her campaign but “were not involved in any decision-making process. ... We were undergraduate students learning about political campaigns,” they wrote.
Wilkerson stood by his criticism Thursday, saying “it’s fair to review an analysis of those who participated in that campaign.”
The mayor admitted he didn’t know if Beasley Brown had any knowledge of the paper before it was written, or if she agreed with it.
“I just read the document and made my analysis,” he said.
The paper includes an analysis of other candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, messaging strategies and fundraising opportunities using political campaign textbooks as a guide.
In the Facebook post, Wilkerson said the paper showed Beasley Brown’s “radical leftist agenda” and a deceptive campaign.
Wilkerson said he would take responsibility for the actions or words of any of his supporters or campaign workers.
In their statement, the authors of the paper wrote that “it is sad that our work in an undergraduate class in 2018 has been used in such a deceitful and falsified way. It’s unfortunate that community representatives sought to use our undergraduate paper for personal gain.”
Beasley Brown is one of 10 candidates seeking election to the commission. Wilkerson was also seeking reelection but in September dropped his bid, citing health issues.
In her Facebook post, Beasley Brown wrote that “overall, I am saddened that some of my colleagues (and other candidates) have maligned and misrepresented these students’ work. I am disheartened that those who have been respected as leaders in our community are using it to slander me. And more importantly, that these innocent students have been brought into a side of the political system that may make them question their involvement moving forward. ... I trust that you, the citizens of Bowling Green, will not get wrapped up in this level of unnecessary drama. Our focus should be on moving forward and making things better for everyone and not on pulling people down.”
– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdailynews.com.