Walt Eilers is said to be a decent man, and he had run a respectable, if somewhat uninspiring, campaign for Mayor of Fayetteville up until now. October is crunch time for a field of six, and sometimes truth gets bent, stretched, or ignored as candidates seek attention and approval. It is sad to see Mr. Eilers fall prey to the temptation of foisting falsehoods on the voters, making him look deceptive and desperate.
Posted on his campaign website is what purports to be his answers to a candidate questionnaire from the Sierra Club. He starts off answering the first question about whether he voted for or against the proposed road impact fees submitted to the voters in April 2007. Eilers says, "I voted against the road impact fees," and goes on to give an explanation of why he voted against them.
FACT CHECK: Voting records in the Washington County Clerk's Office reveal that Walter Paul Eilers, Jr. did not vote at all in the 2007 election on impact fees.
Then, in an answer explaining why he supports the SouthPass development just outside the Fayetteville city limits and in the Greenland School District and how much it might cost city taxpayers to provide infrastructure to the development, Walt Eilers states, "It is a cost share with the city in return for the 200-acre parkland worth $18.86 million."
FACT CHECK: The entire 800 acres of land owned by the Cummings family was purchased at the price locked in by the city, approximately $6.9 million.
How 200 acres of land purchased for less than $1.75 million suddenly becomes worth $18.86 million to Walt Eilers in these hard times for the real estate market is something that escapes logical explanation. Even Dan Coody, who always exaggerates everything except his own faults, valued the parkland at only $2 million back in the boom times of 2004.
Such blatant factual misrepresentations must call into question a candidate's veracity on everything else they have to say about themselves and their proposed public policies during a campaign.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the Eilers campaign has explained: "The $18.86 million figure came from Richard Alexander. The number wasn't a 'blatant factual misrepresentation,' but rather the number Walt had in his notes when he wrote his answers."