, Newburyport, MA

November 14, 2013

Positive campaign, negative feedback

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Re: Characterization of the “I Am Pro Amesbury” Facebook page as a “disingenuous, smear campaign.”

The I Am Pro Amesbury (IAPA) Facebook page was created a few short weeks ago by a small group of citizens, many of whom had just met each other, in response to what was seen as a highly negative view of the city being portrayed by some of the candidates for office in Amesbury. Amesbury was being characterized as a town that no one would want to move to or live in, with high taxes, poor schools, etc.

We disagreed with this description, and wanted to create a space for people who shared our positive outlook on the direction of the city.

We did not disparage those who had a different viewpoint; we did not name the page “I Am Pro Amesbury and You are Not.” We clearly put in the IAPA introductory statement that the page is a space for people who believe that Amesbury is moving in the right direction, which was a sentiment that not everyone would agree with. Because we wanted to be able to endorse candidates who supported our position, IAPA registered as a PAC in order to operate within the law. There is not a single attack on anyone on the IAPA page and we take down posts of all kinds that do so. This may be the first time that we have heard of a group being accused of creating a “smear campaign” because they went positive.

Clearly, the name “I Am Pro Amesbury” touched a nerve in some of our neighbors in a way that we did not expect or intend. Perhaps if a different name had been selected, such as “Amesbury Moving Forward,” the response from some may have been different. Or perhaps not. However, we picked a name that correctly and concisely described the sentiment of the page creators, and apparently of the 500-plus people who have liked the page on Facebook. We fully intend to keep the page active as a place for positive discourse and information about our community.

Rob Chamberlain, Frank Czar, Kim Czar, Matt Einson, Mike Hogg, Gretchen Marinopoulos, Amy Sherwood, Jonathan Sherwood