SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned the Westside Memorial Day Parade snubbed Republican candidates and the party from participating, claiming it does not allow political affiliation or campaigning to be part of the parade. There’s only one problem; the parade allowed Democrats to do just that.
Four of South Bend’s Republican municipal candidates were hoping to participate in the holiday parade, including council candidates Sonia Perez, Roosevelt Stewart and Heidi Bell and Clerk candidate Tina Wilson (all of whom are minorities). Emails sent from parade organizers show they were refused entry because the parade claimed it did not want to politicize the event.
“We need the name of your entry. Who are you marching with? Please know that no mention of political affiliation can be displayed in any entry.” An email sent to Council Candidate Sonia Perez stated.
However, the Democrats were allowed to enter and campaign. In fact, the party carried a large banner with several candidates walking behind it. The 8 foot long banner had writing across it stating, “Democrats Support West Side Parade.” Democrat Council Candidate Oliver Davis and Democrat County Auditor John Murphy were among the people walking with the banner.
St. Joseph County Democrat Party Chair Diana Hess, who is also a member of the County Council, had a vehicle in the parade with her campaign magnets stuck to the side.
PARADE MARSHALL KATIE REAVES
“The application was open to anybody who applied. Nobody was denied anything.” Parade Marshall Katie Reaves said to RNM during a phone call. “All you had to do was fill out an application.”
RNM responded by stating that we have emails showing nobody can be involved if they’re going to be campaigning. Council Candidate Sonia Perez also did fill out an application.
“Yeah, because it’s a veterans’ Memorial Day Parade, the Democrats didn’t have any problem doing that.” Reaves stated.
“They (the Democrats) literally carried a banner that was about 8 feet long.” RNM pointed out.
“Honestly, you stirring up all this, you’re just going to ruin the parade.” She responded before ending the conversation.
RNM did a quick search of Reaves voter history. It turns out, she is a hard Democrat who has only pulled Democrat ballots for 10 straight primary elections since 2012. She currently works for DTSB (Downtown South Bend) as the Ambassador General Manager.
Council Candidate Sonia Perez also sent an email to parade organizers following the parade to ask why Democrats were allowed to walk and campaign. An email responding to her simply said they apologize if something slipped by them.
“Every entry is allowed to identify themselves, even if they are a political party.” Parade organizer Mike Kruk told RNM. “But you couldn’t have a banner that says… ‘Vote for Democrats.'”
Kruk explained he believes a mistake was made by a new volunteer when communicating with the GOP candidate and perhaps the wording of the rules should have been clearer.
“You brought up some things to me that I do need to look into. Because, if we’re putting language out there, to me, that was kind of vague.” He said. “You just can’t be actively campaigning. I wish that could have been distinguished better in the correspondence.”
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