Mayoral candidate Len Carson faces backlash over vaccine billboard ads

Billboards in the town of Oneonta owned by DC Marketing featured anti-vaccination messages last week. (Contributed).

Mayoral candidate
Len Carson faces backlash
over vaccine billboard ads

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA Len Carson, the Fifth Ward Common Council member and Republican mayoral candidate, received some heat at the council’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, for approving billboard ads through his company, DC Marketing, that presented false information about coronavirus vaccines.

Jennifer Hill spoke at the meeting at City Hall, saying the ads were dangerous and strongly condemning Carson for his role in putting up the ads.

Len Carson

“It’s unconscionable that a member of the council and one who wants to lead the city to spread false information,” Hill said. “Mr. Carson did not come across as someone who would want to do that. I don’t know what changed.”

Hill said it was only through vaccines that businesses were able to be reopened and that children would be able to attend classes in-person.

“You seem to want kids to go back to remote learning,” Hill continued, saying the spread of the delta variant of COVID was largely because of unvaccinated adults, calling what was on the billboard “garbage.”

“Mr. Carson, how dare you endanger the children and good people of this city,” Hill said. “You’re screaming fire in a crowded theater. I think you should reconsider your run for mayor and your position on the city council.”

In addition, there were also five letters read out in the correspondence session of the meeting, which all criticized Carson similarly for spreading disinformation and possibly either discouraging individuals from visiting Oneonta or encouraging unvaccinated visitors.

One letter said the billboards “go directly against those goals” of increasing safety through vaccines. Another said the billboards were based on “non-fact based science” and asked “why would a leader in our community want to publish” the ads.

The strongest indictment of all said the billboard ads were “not only unethical but also deadly.”

Carson did not respond to these criticisms during the council meeting.

Mayor Gary Herzig said he spoke to Carson and the anti-vaccine ads had “run their course.”

In a conversation with AllOtsego afterwords, Carson said the ads didn’t reflect his views on the subject and when he researched the ads, “didn’t find fault with the information.”

“I think the best part of America is that we’re entitled to our opinions,” Carson said. “These people expressed their opinions tonight.”

He went on to say he didn’t think any mayor had ever made everyone happy, including the sitting mayor, Gary Herzig.

“Public safety has been a major part of my life. I spent 26 years in the City of Oneonta Fire Department,” said Carson, who touted his efforts to make sure no city employees were laid off when the pandemic hit. “To try and correlate between ‘I don’t care about the public’ and ‘that I wish to do harm to do harm to citizens of Oneonta’ is just an incorrect statement.”

“There have been ads that I have not agreed with personally, but have allowed to used on the digital billboard platform because it matches in line with freedom of speech,” Carson said. “When I looked at the ad I didn’t see anything illegal.”

 


20 thoughts on “Mayoral candidate Len Carson faces backlash over vaccine billboard ads

  1. moxley

    What false information was on the bill board???? Show us a photo of said sign! Thank you Len for being brave and posting the sign.. 1st Amendment is hopefully still alive.

  2. Traci

    Dangerous? Free speech is dangerous? Are there any pictures of these signs? I haven’t seen them. I’m probably better off, if they are so dangerous! I’ll go back to my safe space…

  3. Timothy Schorer

    Just another left wing propaganda hit piece trying to stifle free speech, zero investigative journalism anymore, zero integrity in the press!

  4. Bryan LoRusso

    Gee a candidate that supports medical freedom and individual rights!!!! Better get put a hit piece out on him right away !! I support Carson for Oneonta

  5. Susan Ploutz

    The signs come from a far-right leaning Super PAC just recently founded by Sidney Powell, a huge Trump advocate. This PAC called DefendingTheRepublicPAC.com promotes anti-vax info. and defends the capital attack. Mr. Carson has addressed, as a mayoral candidate, whether he finds this information to be true, and he has said he does not see a problem with it. His company received payment from this SuperPAC, basically helping fund Mr. Carson’s political plans. PLEASE be completely informed as you select your leaders this year. When a candidate receives funding from a PAC they endorse that PAC. Period. This is not about free speech. I’d be anxious to hear whether Mr. Carson feels he’s made a mistake by taking money from this PAC.

  6. Mary Anne Whelan MD

    The free speech isn’t dangerous, but saying that if you have had COVID you don’t need the immunization, is. This is contrary to the advice given by the CDC. It is possible to spread the virus to others even if you have had it, and indeed if you have had it and been vaccinated, but the rate of transmission is reportedly lower. Also, a third shot is recommended and about to be made available.

  7. Dave perkovich

    The comments by moxley, Traci and Timothy schorer all seem to indicate that this article is an assault against free speech. If you read it carefully, it lays out what was said at a city council meeting and presents quotes and positions from both sides. The headline was even pretty objective and non inflamitory! It appears the writer(s) of these comments are conflating their feelings about current events with an article that is reporting on a city council meeting. Take a deep breath, no one is out to get you…. Better yet go to your next city council meeting and participate!

  8. Brad Crane

    Its amazing how quickly those who say black lives matter and are “Anti-Facist” are super quick to try and censor free speech. If they don’t like the message, why don’t they pay to put the message they want on the billboard?

  9. Allison

    This a paid advertisement from a pac, political propaganda. There are no “facts” on said billboard, just misleading information (virtually all medications/ vaccines have potential adverse effects) usually facts are cited. I think people are upset because it seems that we have a long way to go in this county as far as the repercussions from COVID-19. A lot of people have died, a lot of businesses have closed, our economy has taken a huge hit, and now we are identified as having a high community spread. We have a low vac rate in the county, just over 50% and no one wears masks anymore. It’s one or the other folks… eradication of viruses doesn’t happen by being idle. Please do your own research and educate yourself. There’s so much out there, that it takes some due diligence to get facts.

  10. Concerned and Vaccinated

    Yeah ok…and if the signs said BLM…that wouldnt be free speech right? Im gonna use my 1st amendment to say you guys are stupid for propogating and weaponizing misinformation that could kill people. Please go be dumb 6ft away from me and my children.

  11. Chris Baldwin

    Thank you Len Carson for sharing what you found in your research. People have a right to make their own health choices and the choices for what they feel is best for their families. This is America!

  12. concerned business owner

    this is dangerous and just plain wrong
    yet another moron trying to garner political favor with lies and disinformation
    you stepped in it Len, hope your dreams of becoming the mayor are squashed like a bug

  13. Delores Bennett

    This is not a free speech issue; this is a public health issue. Science is not something to be debated by people who know nothing about it. Try to realize that your opinion, unless you are an epidemiologist, means nothing. You are not making medical choices for yourself and your family, because there are no factually based choices regarding this public health emergency except for the ones that the health authorities are telling us. So please stop with the alternative facts and help conquer the virus.

  14. Jerry

    Facts matter. Disinformation about Covid is killing people. Accepting money to spread lies on your billboard is wrong and speaks volumes about the person accepting the money. Freedom of speech? What happened to the right to life? How about “Thou shalt not lie”?

  15. Harvey Brody

    The owner of the billboard allowed someone to use a billboard. It seems to me as someone who worked for NYS DOH and also trained by CDC to be a first responder that the billboard was incorrect but at the time all the vaccines were considered approved by the FDA for emergency use only. I question if a sitting mayor who fled Brooklyn, as a JHS science teacher unable to work with the “inner city kids” in his classroom should attempt to negatively politicize a private business, when most private businesses in Oneonta depend upon public money to do remain in Oneonta.

  16. Harvey Brody

    There is an organized opposition to blame a private businessman in Oneonta (there are very few left) for receiving compensation to rent some billboards. This is as rediculous as a group of far left or far right people meeting in the lobby of a hotel or even dining in the hotel restuarant. The group is conversing amoung themselves and no disturbance or threats or loud noises except laughter are heard. A billboard owner may not deny use of their billboards to anyone not on the Homeland Security list. That is called freedom of speech. All that is rquired is to pay the regular rental fee to the billboard owner. It is rather disgusting politics to make something what it isn’t.

  17. Harvey Brody

    There is an organized opposition to blame a private businessman in Oneonta (there are very few left) for receiving compensation to rent some billboards. This is as rediculous as a group of far left or far right people meeting in the lobby of a hotel or even dining in the hotel restuarant. The group is conversing amoung themselves and no disturbance or threats or loud noises except laughter are heard. A billboard owner may not deny use of their billboards to anyone not on the Homeland Security list. That is called freedom of speech. All that is rquired is to pay the regular rental fee to the billboard owner. It is rather disgusting politics to make something what it isn’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Prove you're not a robot: *