TOWN OF AURORA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A similar ad hit the East Aurora Advertiser weekly publication just a week prior, but it didn’t cause the same kind of stir as the one published at the request of Earl Jann, the Aurora Republican Committee Chairman.
In a release obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, he asks the editor of the publication to publish his ad seeking candidates for a half-dozen positions:
The Aurora Republican Committee will be interviewing candidates for local offices during the month of January. The offices that will be on the ballot in 2021 include: supervisor, town clerk, highway superintendent, each for a two yr. term, as well as two council seats and town justice, each for a four year term.
The Aurora Republican Committee will consider individuals that share our philosophy of small government, lower taxes, pro-life, support the second amendment, believe in legal immigration and are pro police. We are opposed to multi-culturalism, including identity politics and socialism/communism as we believe these policies are responsible for dividing our country.
Interested candidates may send their resume’s to Aurora Republican Committee, P.O. Box 892 , East Aurora, NY, 14052”
For comparison, the Democratic news release similarly seeking candidates was published the week prior said this:
“The Town of Aurora Democratic Committee would like to hear from residents interested in running for the following offices up for election in 2021:
Town Council (2 positions)
Town Superintendent of Highways
A letter of interest and resume should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 15, 2021”
The penultimate line of Jann’s advertisement is what caused a stir for many who question the meaning behind the word “multiculturalism” and the chairman’s opposition to it.
We asked him and he responded by saying his post was straight forward.
“We do not believe in any form of discrimination and therefore do not divide people by gender, race ethnicity etc. We believe that all Americans are just that, not some hyphenated individual,” he said in a written response to 7 Eyewitness News.
A follow up message asked for additional clarity on how opposition to multiculturalism does not qualify as discrimination — Jann says it’s about becoming more American and less of wherever you come from or how you identify.
“We believe that America is the result of generations of immigrants and their adoption of an "American culture". It is fine to have traditions from their ancestors but we need to have one language and a sense of pride in being an American, not a hyphenated American,” he wrote.
“We should not be constantly classifying people by their gender, race, ethnicity etc. as this only serves to divide people and this is what multiculturalism causes,” Jann added.
He also said those trying to misconstrue his use of the term “multiculturalism” are the same ones promoting the identity politics which he says the party opposes.
We reached out to the Erie County GOP and the New York State Republican Committee to see whether the party does, in fact, share this ideology but neither responded to our request for comment.
Jann has published advertisements for candidates before, like this one in the Warsaw Country Courier from 2009, but it did not include ideology qualifications for an endorsement.
In an effort to define some of these terms for our viewers, we reached out to Jacob Neiheisel, an associate professor of political science at the University at Buffalo.
He said when it comes to defining political terms — they’re constantly changing to aid parties in their goals.
“There’s this idea of picking teams and choosing sides and defining ‘us versus them’,” said Neiheisel. “They’re (political parties) doing it in a way that includes a lot of these buzz words that people in their target audience are going to know what they mean.”
Many, including the Aurora Democratic Committee accused Jann’s usage of “multiculturalism” as being a dog-whistle for racist rhetoric.
“In this context, it’s going to be used as a cue, a “heuristic” to prime certain kinds of evaluations surrounding what identity politics means to your average republican supporter,” said Neiheisel after reading Jann’s response to us.
Definitions aside, many are still wondering why positions like town clerk or even town supervisor, who would be responsible for the budget, payroll, and the town’s general ledger, would need to identify with these political ideals.
David Gunner, a registered republican, is planning to run for his fifth term as Aurora Highway Supervisor.
“I don’t remember ever having any kind of national issues being brought up to a candidate in the past,” he said “I don’t believe they are things that have anything to do with our local government.”
Gunner said he’s been endorsed by both the republican and democratic parties in three of his four terms.
“My job is not political, it shouldn’t be political…our only goal as the highway superintendent is to provide smooth and safe roads.”
The editor of the East Aurora Advertiser tells us there have been many letters to the editor written in response to Jann’s position, and some will appear in this week’s edition.