HomeNewsPublic Officials react to Hayes Controversy

Public Officials react to Hayes Controversy

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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.

On Monday Ms. Hayes resigned from the HDTC and on Tuesday the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce accepted her resignation.

>> RELATED: Chair of HDTC Used 24 Pseudonyms to Stoke Debate

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:

“No Comment.”

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:

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  1. So can I call the election stolen or is this term verboten? Hayes owes this candidate a public apology by I won’t hold my breath. Hayes should also pray that she doesn’t end up at the wrong end of a defamation lawsuit.

    • Please show me verifiable evidence that this impacted the actual election.

      It was bad actions be around the candidate, but the actual election.

      Ashley lost. Darlene acted poorly. These are mutually exclusive events.

      Let it go.

      • EIE, look in the mirror. You were whipped into such a fury in the Comments sections you were making vague threats about throwing objects at the candidate and screaming profanities out the car window on your way to vote. If you really want to fight fascism you have to recognize when you or the people you support start taking similar actions and are essentially the same thing in a slightly different costume. If it’s worthy to question the influence of misinformation from foreign powers in our national elections, it’s certainly worthy to ask the same question locally when a person in position of power was caught red handed.

        • When did I support Darlene Hayes?

          The fascists in this town are seizing this as opportunity to spread misinformation and will be using it as ammunition to excuse actions done in bad faith.

          The difference between this and ‘misinformation from foreign powers in our national elections’ is that one was done with the candidates knowledge and one is a bad actor.

          When Russia interfered in national election in 2016, no one opposed the results, even with all the evidence. Not one legitimate party claimed the election process was bad.

          Unfortunately, the fascists have decided that any election which they don’t like is inherently flawed and should be invalidated.

          The election isn’t part of the discussion.

  2. Thanks to HopNews for exposing this behavior that has been impacting this town for years.
    Hopefully this will make people stop and think before they attack someone that may have different views then them.

  3. The key role of journalism is to hold those in power accountable and provide accurate and fair information.

    Thank you HopNews and The Independent for their impressive and invaluable work.

    Hopkinton is better for it.

  4. The quoted comments above reflect the shallow bipartisan rhetoric we hear on a national level.
    The behaviour of Ms. Hayes is proof of this.
    Our country’s recent political history with negative, juvenile and uneducated discourse has created the current environment.
    But as an 18 year Hopkinton resident, I believe the past decisions of the planning board that have increased the town’s population to unpredicted levels, over-burdened our town’s finances along with any many other consequences have placed everyone involved with town management in an ever more difficult situation.

  5. Leaving no reply (I understand the point about not discussing items that may come up for vote, but you can at the very least apologize for the harm that has so clearly and inexplicably been imposed by a member of your own) when you are in these community leading roles and positions and also in a position where you worked so closely with the offender…it’s such a cop out. Shahidul’s response vs Amy R, Muriel, Mary Jo… Shahidul wins. Not responding at all and not showing some sliver of empathy is like choosing your work over your family. It looks as if these people are in it for their career only, are fair weather friends: willing to show up with signs and smiles at community events but not willing to speak and act without your safety net of colleagues that all agree with. Can these elected officials stand on their own two feet and serve the entire community of Hopkinton or are they just a bunch of empty suits listing after state level roles? I’d vote that it’s time to be sincere, authentic, empathetic human beings, neighbors, and community members. Leadership first. The window is open. (This goes for me as well, but I’m not an elected official that is powerful and influential in this town.)

  6. EIE, look in the mirror. You were whipped into such a fury in the Comments sections you were making vague threats about throwing objects at the candidate and screaming profanities out the car window on your way to vote. If you really want to fight fascism you have to recognize when you or the people you support start taking similar actions and are essentially the same thing in a slightly different costume. If it’s worthy to question the influence of misinformation from foreign powers in our national elections, it’s certainly worthy to ask the same question locally when a person in position of power was caught red handed.

  7. What has happened can be looked at as election interference. Freedom House has listed three types of election interference. One of which is informational measures ,in which online discussions are surreptitiously manipulated in favor of the government or particular parties or persons ,or to discredit a particular party or persons. It may not rise to this level but maybe the Secretary of State should take a peek. Town leaders should be looking closely at the events that have unfolded the past few days and at minimum make a joint statement.

    • Please explain how this is ‘election interference’ and why the Secretary of State should look into this.

      This is not an elections crime – it occurred in an election cycle, but that does not make it criminal elections act. Astroturfing may be a bad act, however, it is not criminal.

      Additionally, ‘election’ crimes are typical organizational acts, not people. Darlene Hayes acted alone; if you have evidence that this was a conspiracy, please share.

      Lastly, Darlene Hayes did not do anything criminal – bad actions are not illegal. I’ve looked through different statues and the worst I’ve found would be a civil complaint of harassment – but that would be a stretch. It’s a dishonest action, but totally legal speech.

      I don’t agree with the action and doing the action has consequences. Those consequences, however, are NOT criminal and DO NOT invalidate the fair election.

  8. Good Morning
    I personally did not indicate an election crime took place. I was referencing one of the points in the Freedom House article. It does seem on it’s face however that Darlene Hayes actions were intended to discredit ‘a particular party or persons’. I also said nothing of conspiracy. Given that, I did speak with an attorney friend of mine who indicated that although she may have been the one doing the online posting could some of the postings have been done on behalf of others? I want to be clear that I am in no way alleging any crime(s) being committed. I agree with you that there most likely was not. I think for the sake of reassurance to the town and the voters and to move on it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Secretary of State or the Town Counsel to make a statement indicating something along the lines of ‘bad judgment yes, criminal no’.

    Lastly, I grew up in the town and check in daily to see the goings on. Hopefully everyone will be able to be civil to each other in the future no matter what side of the aisle you are on. Because you may feel one way about a candidate or an issue it doesn’t mean the person who doesn’t share your view is wrong. Be respectful to each other.

  9. In response to Nancy Richards-Cavanaugh: You are completely right. This is not just about the actions of one person. The HDTC is also complicit, and needs to go if we are going to have fair and civil elections in this town.


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