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Candidates Downplay Dispute Over Deleted Facebook Post

While the candidates disagree over how the deletion of a Facebook page was handled, they both agree they they want to move on.

Candidates Downplay Dispute Over Deleted Facebook Post

The two candidates running for president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council say a controversy over the use of a Facebook event page featuring the board's logo has been blown out of proportion.

This week, a mini dust-up was created among neighborhood council candidates when Monica Alcaraz deleted a post by Cathi Milligan on a Facebook event page inviting community members to an upcoming forum. Both Alcaraz and Milligan are running for president of the board, and both say they are hoping to put the disagreement behind them. 

Though Milligan's post did not directly solicit votes, it identified her as a candidate for president and invited community members to attend the forum.

Alcaraz, who administers the page, as well as the HHPNC's official website, deleted the post, citing election rules that prohibit candidates from soliciting votes on pages that bear the HHPNC logo.

"If I would have left that on there, it would have been implied that we were endorsing her," Alcaraz said. "It wasn't like she wrote 'vote for me,' but it was 'I'm running for.' You can't even say anything like that. I don't think she meant to do it, but we are governed by rules." 

Milligan responded, saying that it wasn't her intention to solicit votes with her post.

She also agreed that deleting the post was ultimately the right thing to do, but said she did not feel that Alcaraz was the right person to do it.

"I don't have any problems with her, I have a problem with what she did as the other candidate for President. And I can't even rebut [allegations of voter-solicitation], because the original post is gone. I just wish she would have spoken to me before she took it down. It would have been easier."

Terrence Gomes, an independent election adviser for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment will attend next Tuesday's candidates forum at 6 p.m. at Franklin High School to address the rules regarding solicitation.

The issue was also brought to the attention of the City Attorney's office by  Margarito Martinez, who is running for an at large seat on the council.

Martinez also posted a video of himself on Patch's Neighborhood Gallery, detailing the dispute and his impromptu meeting with Darren Martinez of the City Attorney's Office.

"I think he's trying to support me, but he's also making it bigger. I just want it to go away," Alcaraz said.

Martinez responded, saying "I acted properly, in the interests of all the candidates, not just myself."

In the meantime, current HHPNC President Chris Smith has handed administrative control of the HHPNC's Facebook page to Carmela Gomes, a stakeholder who is not seeking a seat on the board.

"I think it's better than anyone who is running for anything to not have control of the page," Smith said.

For her part, Alcaraz said she wasn't trying hide Milligan's post in order to gain an edge with voters. In fact, she said she wished there was even more competition.

"I wish there were five candidates for president, not just two," she said. "Even more people should want to serve on the board, because its an honor."

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