This guest column by Kristen Randall is in response to one posted on The Livingston Post by Judy Daubenmier on Feb. 19, 2020.
My husband, Mike Randall, was previously elected to (having beat out the long-serving incumbent for the position) and served on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners well before we even met in 2011. As his press statement notes, as a former county commissioner, he served on the health and human services, public safety, judiciary, and debt management sub-committees; the Thompson Lake Board; and as the Vice-Chairman of the OLHSA Board of Directors.
As his press statement also notes, Mike has otherwise served in the public sector — in various capacities as a paramedic, firefighter, corrections deputy, police officer, Assistant Fire Chief — for nearly 30 years. To the extent that the Daubenmier article suggests that Mike somehow could not hold his own as a county commissioner or that I would somehow be his “puppet master,” his significant contributions while on the Board as well as his other life-long professional accomplishments speak for themselves and show the utter absurdity of any such suggestion.
While, out of modesty, I cringe at having to tout my own credentials, I am also professionally accomplished in my own right, having, for example, graduated with honors from a top-tier law school and having clerked for several federal judges (again, well before I met Mike). Mike and I also share a lot of the same conservative values and are otherwise very much politically like-minded. Those are some of the commonalities that drew us together as a couple in the first place.
As the wife of a former elected County Commissioner, I certainly benefited (albeit second-hand) from all of the knowledge and insights that my husband had obtained during his prior service on the board.
Further, as I said, we are politically like-minded and otherwise agree on some of the major issues facing Livingston County. Thus, when I decided to run for county commissioner back in 2016, my husband was a valuable “sounding board” and resource to me during my campaign. Like most other political candidates who seek counsel from various trusted advisors, I jointly collaborated with my husband in developing a political platform (that I separately and we collectively) believed to be in the County’s best interests. The press statement that I released during my campaign included this platform and, in particular, outlined what my top priorities would be if elected as a county commissioner.
Like most other political candidates who seek assistance from “speech writers” or other writing consultants, I sought my husband’s counsel in drafting my press statement. Thus, as to the actual words and ideas expressed in that press statement, they were, again, a result of a joint collaboration between me and my husband and, thus, a matter of joint ownership between us.
Plagiarism is, by definition, the stealing and passing off of the words and ideas of another person as one’s own words and ideas. See Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Joint collaboration or authorship is not plagiarism. And just as almost every other politician, in delivering a speech or issuing a press statement, does not give express credit to those advisors or writers who collaborated on the speech or press statement, neither did I nor my husband feel it necessary to do so with respect to each other.
Because the priorities set forth in my press statement apply today just as much as they did then, my husband, as a joint collaborator, has every right to re-advance them during his own campaign. In short, we believe in what we said then, we believe it still holds true today, and I am a firm believer that, if one takes the time and effort to say something right the first time, there is no need to “re-invent the wheel” just for the sake of doing so.
Rather than attack our political platform on its merits, which the columnist, Judy Daubenmier (not
surprisingly, the Chairman of the Livingston County Democratic Party and open Glen Miller supporter), otherwise concedes contains “decent ideas,” she attempts to launch a completely baseless character assassination against my husband (and, indirectly, me). She has the audacity to say that, because my husband used the words and ideas that he himself jointly created when I was running and that he still believes in for his campaign, he lacks “old-fashioned values like honesty, trust, and authenticity.”
Well, Judy, what I find morally and ethically repugnant is a blatant and baseless attempt to slander someone’s good character and reputation for ulterior political motives.
We need to put aside political gamesmanship and dirty politics and do what is right for the residents of Livingston County by focusing on what really matters here: what each candidate would bring to the Board of Commissioners if elected.