Letter to the editor – June 10, 2024

Dear editor,

Sen. Caryn Tyson had the opportunity to provide a professional response to her statements regarding Iola having the highest commercial property taxes in the entire nation.

After being challenged as to the veracity and truth of that claim, her simple response might have been: “Thank you for pointing out the discrepancy. Moving forward, I/my staff will ensure that we do multiple rounds of data confirmation before making statements about policy. I should have done a better job of investigation those claims.” 

Unfortunately, her response at the May 28 meeting of Iola Council was a master class in blame-shifting, obfuscation, and accountability dodging on claims that could be easily refuted (and were). 

Tyson seemed irritated by anyone daring to question her and less interested in facts. She chose to continue to argue and double-down — even in the face of correct tax data. Tyson went so far as to disparage a Register reporter — again, not based on fact and having not even read the article (by her own reluctant admission). 

One of these responses to appropriate questioning would have been worrisome. The volume of Tyson’s attempts to spin, blame-shift, and disparage accurate reporting and questions by local officials should give voters pause. 

What does Tyson say about our communities when we are not present to document and contest her statements? How much damage has been done by having a state Senator who merely repeats “facts” without vetting them firsthand and then, who dismisses concerns with irresponsible nonsense like, “I’m not the one saying it. I am repeating it.” 

A heartfelt thanks goes to the Register and its reporters for ensuring truth in reporting and to our local officials for their dedication to correcting inaccurate statements made by our elected officials.

In the decades since all of us have had ready access to the internet and to data, there is no genuine excuse for peddling incorrect information — and especially, not as an elected official. 

What was her intent in doing so? Tyson is up for re-election, and judging by her recent re-election mailer, one might conclude pushing incorrect property tax data is part of a larger smear campaign against our Governor. 

I urge you to read those mailers carefully, and judge for yourselves. Soon, we must consider what kind of elected officials we want to represent our communities. Is it someone who does their due diligence, who takes responsibility when errors are made, who shows respect for and a willingness to work with others, who supports factual reporting, who takes their representative job seriously? 

Or is it someone, like Tyson, who has recently demonstrated an unwillingness to do any of those? 

We should support candidates who fully accept responsibility when they err and especially, ones who do not peddle “alternate” facts or become obstinate and disrespectful when questioned. 

An old saying applies: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. 

Given these recent developments, I will not be voting for Tyson. Will you?

Melissa Irwin, PhD,

Iola, Kan.

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