FARMINGTON — The campaign manager of City Council hopeful Bob Moon designed a scorecard that surveyed city of Farmington candidates on religious and social values, drawing ire of candidates who questioned the ethics of the move.

The candidates who criticized the scorecard characterized it as a simplistic attempt to rank candidates on issues unrelated to their elected office.

The scorecard, which didn't mention its creator, Moon's campaign manager Drew Degner, asked close-ended questions on church attendance, abortion rights, gay marriage and other religious and social values. Candidates had the opportunity not to comment.

Mayor-elect Tommy Roberts responded to the request, which didn't mention it came from Degner, with a disapproving e-mail. He declined to answer what he called "extremely personal" questions.

"I would not promote my religious beliefs as a means to influence voters in an election for public office and would not agree to let others use them for that purpose," Roberts wrote.

Degner, who attends Emmanuel Baptist Church, said he wanted to determine candidates' values for fellow congregation members. Degner didn't distribute the scorecard beyond the church and Moon, a pastor, said he only posted a copy on a bulletin board at his church, My Father's House.

"People want to vote for a person that mimics their values," Degner said. "I did it as part of church as a Christian."

The scorecard wasn't a part of Moon's campaign literature, Degner and Moon said.


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"That was not a point to advertise this for Bob whatsoever," Degner said.

Moon said he didn't know that Degner was developing such a questionnaire. Moon also wasn't aware of which other candidates received the questionnaire at the time.

Moon said the scorecard "maybe" should have mentioned that it came from his campaign manager even though it wasn't a part of his campaign.

"If people got their feelings hurt, I'm sorry," Moon said.

It wasn't clear to what extent the scorecard circulated through Farmington. Degner said he didn't intend that it leave the church.

Moon added, "We didn't drop a bunch of flyers out of the airplane or nothing else like that."

Degner said he did not seek permission from The Daily Times for the newspaper's photos of candidates that appeared on the scorecard.

Roberts wrote that he wouldn't complete questionnaires that allow only "yes" and "no" answers.

"To me, the why' component of a position statement is every bit as important as the ultimate position because it tells much more about the responder's character and gives the receiver a much more solid foundation upon which to judge honesty, integrity and fairness," Roberts wrote.

He added that the council wouldn't take up the issues in the scorecard. He asked that the scorecard not list that his answer was "no comment," so the scorecard said, "could not answer just yes' or no.'"

Degner said Roberts' response also was distributed in church.

However, responses from City Councilman Sandel and most from losing candidate Leigh Black Irvin were listed as "no comment."

Sandel, Moon's opponent who won re-election, said he wasn't given the opportunity to list his answers as "could not answer just yes' or no.'"

More important, the scorecard never mentioned its political origin, Sandel said. Degner and others have "the right to put out whatever they want," but campaign literature should include information identifying the source of the message for voters.

"I'm certainly a believer in an American's right to freedom of speech, but I think it's important to identify where it comes from, who sponsored it, who paid for it," Sandel said.

Degner acknowledged that the scorecard's methods weren't scientific, but added that he intended to be fair. He thought the candidates easily could answer "yes" or "no" about their values.

"I don't judge Jason for not answering it," said Degner, who personally asked Sandel if he would complete the questionnaire.

If Degner did something similar again, he said he would ask candidates different questions and would hold a forum where congregation members could ask questions about values.

He pointed out that candidates' values are important to voters from the local to presidential level. 

Like Roberts, City Councilwoman Mary Fischer said she wasn't told that she was responding to a questionnaire from Moon's campaign manager.

That Moon didn't know what his campaign manager was doing concerned her.

"That's sort of alarming and that is not good," Fischer said. "Open communication on every level is key."

Steve Lynn: slynn@daily-times.com