On primary Tuesday a picture was posted on the Lake and Main Facebook page (and a few others) of a County Council candidate illegally parked in a handicapped zone. Many were righteously outraged at his disregard for the law and a few thought bringing attention to it “petty” and “juvenile.”
Sixth District Council candidate Dino Teppara parked his car in the blue cross-hatch space in the handicapped parking area at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church on Sunset Blvd., one of the Lexington precinct polling stations.
Mr. Teppara reacted by denying he parked in a handicapped space and attempted to turn the issue into a conspiracy by blaming others for his dereliction. [According to state law, parking in a handicapped access zone is a misdemeanor with a “fine of no less than $500 and not more than $1000 or imprisonment of no more than 30 days”]
My wife is a victim of Multiple Sclerosis so I’m sensitive about those who violate this particular regulation. But most people don’t cotton to others’ laziness, arrogance, sense of privilege or lack of civil decency. And when such bad behavior is exhibited by someone seeking political office, it becomes noteworthy.
So, understand that this is not about a “juvenile” misdemeanor or an infringement on a personal sensitivity. This is a message about character. This is about a person – a lawyer at that – who believes he has a special relationship with the law. It’s about a person running for public office displaying an overt arrogance toward the community and, in this instance, handicapped and disabled citizens.
Mr. Teppara’s parking transgression and his reaction to its revelation are snapshots of poor judgment by a smug, holier-than-thou (and maybe a little paranoid) autocrat.
In his campaign, Mr. Teppara has called current members of the county council “corrupt” without giving specifics. [When Lake and Main sent him an email asking for clarifications, Mr. Teppara did not respond] Mr. Teppara has also accused the council of “trying to import corruption across the river by trying to pass the SAME corrupt penny sales tax” as in Richland County. That is, since some Richland County council members were misappropriating sales tax revenue, Lexington County council members will, too.. That offensive charge alone is enough to deny Mr. Teppara a position of leadership in our county.
His misrepresentations, half-truths and fear tactics are classic demagoguery. It’s a style used with impunity by the fringe, anti-progress groups with which Mr. Teppara associates. He and his extremist pals do not play well with others. Instead of honest dialogue about issues, they shut out differing ideas and demean those who disagree by calling them “corrupt cronies” or, in this case, “petty.”
Park your minds in this space; if he is this superior, this egotistical as a candidate for office, what can voters expect of a Councilman Teppara?
Mr. Teppara will face Erin Long Bergeson in a 28 June runoff for the Sixth District seat on the Lexington County Council.