Controversy Among Delegate Candidates

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

September 20, 2005

Some controversy sparked today among the candidates for the 58th seat in the House of Delegates. It's all over what one candidate sees as a negative campaign tactic.

Democratic candidate Steve Koleszar calls it 'push-polls,' while incumbent republican Rob Bell refers to it as simply a 'survey.' No matter what you call it, it seems to be causing concern for some.

"A push-poll purports to be a legitimate opinion poll, but its purpose is to influence voters by distorting the opponent's record, and framing them in the most unfavorable light," said 58th district democratic candidate, Steve Koleszar.

In a press conference Tuesday, Koleszar said he received one of these calls.

"Something in the mood of, 'if you knew that Steve Koleszar supported felons in the public schools, would you be more or less likely to vote for him'," he said.

According to Koleszar, it was paid for by Rob Bell's campaign, the current republican delegate of the 58th district. Delegate Bell says it's not a negative tactic at all, calling the 'push polls' simply polls, or surveys.

"It wasn't really a push poll it was a poll poll. We asked about 44 questions, of which eight of them were involving things that he has proposed or things he's talked about," said Delegate Bell. "A majority if them are things that I've proposed or that I've talked about."

He also said that "push polls" don't mention the candidate conducting the survey and are done on about 10,000 people. This one surveyed about 300 people.

But Koleszar, who is currently on the Albemarle County School Board, maintains his distaste for the poll.

"I am disappointed in Delegate Bell because this tactic shows disrespect for the voters," he said.

"I don't see this as anything unusual," said Bell. "It was just a kind of survey we do to find out what people are thinking."

During the press conference, Koleszar also said he feels that Delegate Bell is avoiding him when it comes to debates. However according to Bell, several debates are in the process of now being scheduled.

That election takes place in November.

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