Their View: Public officials should resist social media attacks

At a time when citizen involvement is critical to our governmental operation at all levels, the recent events involving a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the City of Delaware is quite troubling.

Lucas Ratliff, a member of that advisory board, last week was removed for his conduct on social media. Council voted 5-0 to remove Ratliff from the board, with Vice Mayor Kent Shafer and Councilman Kyle Rohrer abstaining from voting.

It’s unfortunate because, in our view, Ratliff is a concerned resident who happened to have a differing viewpoint than some members of Delaware City Council concerning last fall’s failed transportation levy. He voiced those comments, but then went too far.

Healthy disagreements are expected when residents are appointed to such advisory boards. We believe Ratliff entered the arrangement with honorable intentions, but then drifted into what amounts to mud slinging.

What transpired between Ratliff and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Lisa Keller via social media became personal and degrading. That’s not the intent of advisory boards or city councils and we think this community deserves better and more professional conduct by those both elected and appointed to represent the city.

Not agreeing with a levy, or any policy matter, is fine. Attacking someone personally isn’t. Council’s decision was based on Ratliff’s actions via his Facebook posts.

Moving forward, the City of Delaware likely will adopt a Code of Conduct. Councilman George Hellinger said at last week’s meeting it would be drafted, noting “Unfortunately times change.”

He is absolutely correct. Times have changed and posting on any social media platform requires careful thought and deliberation. Those attributes clearly were lacking in this instance.

— Delaware Gazette