On Monday, HopNews published an article revealing that Darlene Hayes, who until recently was the chair of the Hopkinton Town Democratic Committee, a board member of the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce, and holds Select Board appointments to the Hopkinton Housing Authority and Community Preservation Committees, deliberately attempted to effect the outcome of the May 15 school committee election by newsjacking both HopNews and the Hopkinton Independent comments sections. She used at least 24 aliases across both publications. Subsequently the Hopkinton Independent corroborated the findings.
HopNews sought comment from elected and appointed officials on the matter and has published them below. Their email addresses are linked for readers that wish to contact them directly.
State Representative James Arena-DeRosa:
“It is an unfortunate and disappointing situation; hopefully all of us, regardless of our politics – can commit in the upcoming 2024 campaign cycle to focus on positive campaigning, public policy differences and candidate experiences. I had a chance to meet all the Hopkinton school committee candidates, and noted that I would be happy to work with all of them either as newly elected officials or in their role as valued community volunteers. Where Hopkinton and HopNews goes from here with local online monitoring is not in my purview, but I would note that there are many individuals on the Hopkinton Democratic Town Committee who have served the town for years, deeply value their community, and have all helped make Hopkinton a great place to live.”
Hopkinton Select Board Chair Muriel Kramer:
“The Select Board members are unable to comment publicly on any matter that may come before them for deliberation and vote in future meetings.”
Hopkinton Select Board Member Shahidul Mannan (speaking as a private citizen):
“I find this behavior completely unacceptable and harmful for the town as it hurts the democratic process. This does not reflect my values and principles, and I hope we all learn from this and move forward as a town together.”
Chair of the Hopkinton Housing Authority Nancy Drawe:
Chair of the Hopkinton Town Republican Committee Jim Mirabile:
“The Hopkinton Republican Town Committee (HRTC) is not surprised by the recent revelations uncovered by HopNews. We are saddened that an Unenrolled/Independent candidate for school committee had to endure personal attacks once again in what should have been a civil town election that instead was turned into something very ugly.
As the HRTC has stated publicly, the targeting, bullying and/or boycotting of individuals or local businesses in our town is not something condoned nor coordinated by the HRTC. Our organization’s belief is that vigorous, ethical debate on policy is how you convey leadership in town.
Unfortunately, this latest series of events is not a “one person” issue. Several individuals in town have used various media to coordinate personal attacks and local business boycotts. This behavior has been going on for the past several years and is regarded as common knowledge by many in town. All this does is hurt our local businesses and our neighbors. It needs to stop.
As we move forward from this latest incident, it is my hope that we all do better at not feeding into this behavior, and we take the additional step to discourage those around us who we observe engaging in it. Simply “do” what we expect from and teach our children.
We may disagree on how to move the town forward, but I believe we all have a similar goal in mind, how to keep Hopkinton a great and affordable place to live and raise a family.”
Chair of the Hopkinton School Committee Nancy Richards-Cavanaugh (speaking as a private citizen):
“While the news this past week has been both shocking and upsetting, I think it would be short sighted to limit our focus to the behaviors of one individual in one election. The truth is that the past several election cycles have brought out some ugliness on multiple sides that I think most of us would prefer not to see in Hopkinton. I’m not looking to rehash past issues, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in this year’s election that we only had one contested race. Not many people appeared to want to risk going through what some candidates have endured going back several election cycles.
In the immediate sense, I worry about mental health impacts on individuals and the community as a whole. I also have serious concerns that the fallout of the politics of the past few elections will deter future potential candidates from seeking elected town office. Our form of town governance requires a steady flow of citizens willing to step up as volunteers for these positions and when the personal price becomes untenable, we will have few, if any, choices left for candidates.
I hope that in the coming weeks, we can focus on healing, resetting and coming together as a community. We need to reflect on how we can change the course of campaigns before we get to next January when potential candidates should start declaring their intent to run. I know I personally have been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now and I don’t believe I am the only one. Our town and political leaders must come together to help set the tone for how we want future elections to look or we risk having ballots with no or too few candidates running.”
HopNews requested comments from the following individuals but received no reply:
- State Senator Karen Spilka
- Select Board Member Mary Jo Lafreniere
- Select Board Member Irfan Nasrullah
- Select Board Member Amy Ritterbusch
- Chair of the Community Preservation Committee