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Civility Project: Stanley Signs Pledge

Troy Stanley pledges to be civil in his public discourse and behavior. He will be respectful of others he doesn’t agree with. And he’ll stand against incivility when he sees it.

OK, fine. Not real difficult you might say, even for a candidate for Congress – especially one not given much of a chance at winning (almost no chance, some observers may say.)

But Stanley, an indpendent candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw in northeast Florida’s 4th congressional district, does stand out. In the entire country, Stanley is one of only two candidates for Congress or governorships who have agreed to sign a civility pledge being pushed by CivilityProject.org.

The organization, a bipartisan group with leaders from both ends of the political spectrum, sent a letter to all 435 members of Congress and all 50 governors asking them to sign a 32-word pledge to be civil in their dealings with other people. Except for U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, all declined.

Candidates for Congress can also sign the pledge, though to be fair they weren’t contacted by the organization. But according to Civilityproject.org, Stanley is the only congressional candidate besides Wolf who has agreed to be civil.

“I’ll take the first step to say I’ll stick to the issues,” Stanley told the News Service Monday. He says he hears from people all the time while he’s campaigning that they’re tired of the negativity and the personal attacks. He pointed to the negative ads running in the GOP primary for governor between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott, and said he thinks issues are getting pushed into the background by the fight to see who can portray the other worse.

“People are starting to get a bad taste in their mouth, it’s just a slug fest” said Stanley, a career Navy veteran who retired and got angry about the federal bailout of big banks, prompting him to run for Congress. (“I couldn’t yell at my TV anymore, so I decided to run for Congress,” he said.)

Stanley agrees with the premise of civility.org – the negative attacks are crowding out discussion of serious issues. One of the big ones for Stanley is the tax system: a major plank in his platform is a less complicated tax structure.

Stanley, in a brief interview, stuck to his pledge – he was very civil and the closest he came to criticizing Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, was to note that he’s heard a lot of disatisfaction with incumbents, in general.

“I haven’t met Ander Crenshaw,” said Stanley. “He seems like a nice guy.”

Stanley is grounded in the realization that his chances of unseating the 5-term incumbent Crenshaw are small, especially because he’s running with no party affiliation. At last check, Crenshaw had nearly $400,000 to spend on the campaign, and though Stanley does have a radio ad up in the Jacksonville area, he’s mostly having to campaign door-to-door, having raised less than $3,000.

“I’m the underdog of underdogs,” said Stanley.

But you won’t catch him being uncivil about it.

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