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Election campaign marred by personal attacks

Meghanne Downes | Friday, February 13, 2004

Though elections always involve some personal attacks, this year’s election has been marked by especially vicious attacks against one candidate.While Adam Istvan and Karla Bell said they received only positive comments throughout their campaign, their opposition, Charlie Ebersol and James Leito, did not report a similar experience.Ebersol, who also ran for the top student government position last year, losing to Pat Hallahan, said that the threats he received this year intensified since the 2003 election. The threats include postings on the NDToday.com message boards, voicemails left on Ebersol’s apartment phone and e-mails to his personal account. Ebersol added that his Hummer has been keyed and the tires on his vehicle have been deflated multiple times. Ebersol said he did not report these threats or acts of vandalism to authorities.”It becomes such a ridiculous situation that you don’t know how to react to it,” he said. “The toughest thing is that I don’t feel I know that many people at this campus or have done anything offensive enough to warrant the threat.”Ebersol said that while no one has directly confronted him, this year’s threats have been more personal in nature. Though he said he received death threats previously, he does not consider these recent threats to be as serious in nature.”The thing that gets me the most is that people don’t want to confront me,” Ebersol said. “I am right now reacting to an invisible group that is either unwilling or doesn’t want to confront me and ask me questions to find out what about me they don’t like. I can’t defend myself.”Ebersol added that this election’s issues were lost as students tended to focus more on the individuals themselves.Reacting to Thursday’s runoff election results, several students said they voted for Istvan and Bell because of their personal dislike for Ebersol.”I’m a CBS fan myself,” freshman Dan Nickele said, referencing Ebersol’s father Dick Ebersol, who is Chairman of NBC Sports. “I’ve heard he’s just a jerk, not that I know him personally,” Nickele said.Ebersol’s running mate, Leito, said he was not the subject opersonal attacks, and that he does not believe his own campaign experience – both the negative and the positive – was unlike previous campaigns.Istvan and Bell reported an overall positive experience.”[I have received] nothing but positive feedback,” Istvan said. “If that disgusting stuff is happening to [Ebersol], I feel awful and that is not what this [election] is supposed to be about.”