To the editor:

One of the two new members of the Newbury Select Board, Leslie Matthews, deserves credit for a well-run, spirited write-in campaign, earning the most votes of the three candidates, including longtime incumbent and former Chairman J.R. Colby.

The story of this year’s election, however, would not be complete without an account of what went on behind the scenes. At least part of the results must be attributed to a relentless series of attacks for months on social media, starting well before the Select Board campaign, against Mr. Colby and other town officials in what can only be described as character assassination.

A particular social media channel presents itself as a crusader for truth and justice, but in fact repeatedly insinuates that three members of the Select Board, the town administrator, and at times other town officials, are members of a corrupt conspiracy out for their own good at the expense of the good taxpayers of our town.

These attacks, which continue after the election, are an echo of what is going on elsewhere in our country on a higher stage. The tone of strutting around as a defender of truth, while subtly but unmistakably presenting those who don’t agree with you as evil “others” could come right out of Fox News.

When the preliminary election results came in, and it appeared as if Ms. Matthews could lose, they even began to set the stage for accusations of stolen ballots, something right out of the post-2020 election MAGA playbook.

I don’t engage with this flood of disinformation and half-truths because I have better things to do with my time than to rebut every rebuttal.

As the son of a farmer, I know what J.R. Colby is doing in May. He has far less free time than I do, and his priority sure isn’t spending hours defending himself in the dark channels of the internet, nor should he have to.

Personal attacks on the national stage, while despicable, are against powerful, full-time politicians.

Similar toxic attacks on social media have no place in a small town like Newbury where our Select Board consists of our neighbors working part time to do the best they can for our town.



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