Reading Eagle (October 6, 1940)
F. R. SPEAKS AT RALLY IN HOME COUNTY
Calls for Improvement In Conducting Local Government
President’s Talk Avoids Any Discussion Of Specific Issues
Hyde Park, N.Y., Oct. 5 (AP) –
Calling for improvement and simplification of local government, President Roosevelt told a rally of Democrats in his home county tonight that “overstatement, personal attacks and wild promises have no part in our county campaign – anymore than in a national campaign.”
I am very certain that, realizing this, you will conduct it on the highest possible level of American ethics and decency. May your efforts be understood and approved by the voters next November.
In the second avowedly political speech since his nomination for a third term, Mr. Roosevelt dealt primarily with local politics, without mentioning specific issues or personalities.
But in the afternoon he had driven Hardy Steeholm, Democratic candidate for Congress from his own district, to the dedication of three new schools near Hyde Park. Steeholm, for whom the Chief Executive had said he would vote, is trying to unseat Representative Hamilton Fish, ranking Republican member of the influential House Rules and Foreign Affairs Committees, and a frequent critic of the New Deal.
Hundreds of his neighbors, half of them school children, heard the Chief Executive extol the American system of free education as a means of preserving democracy, in an address in front of a new high school named for him.
Dictators, he said, had stamped out freedom of learning because “tyranny hates and fears nothing more than the free exchange of ideas, the free play of the mind that comes from education.”
The three new Dutchess County schools, for which PWA supplied part of the $1,300,000 outlay, and other American schools, Mr. Roosevelt said, would train the nation’s youth –
…not for enforced labor camps or for regimentation as an enslaved citizenry, but for the intelligent exercise of the right of suffrage, and for participation as free human beings in the life of the nation.
Then, speaking a few hours later by radio from his Hyde Park home to an annual dinner sponsored by the Dutchess County Democratic Committee in nearby Poughkeepsie, the President said he hoped the exercise of right of suffrage locally would bring Democratic victories in the November 5 election.
I trust that in the coming campaign the Democratic candidates for office will stress not so much their democracy as they will their belief that they can give more efficient and honest service than many of those who are their opponents.
He said he thought local Democrats had picked nominees for positions both in Albany and Washington who measured up to high standards of integrity and intelligence and that he hoped their efforts “will be crowned by success.”
Even if the county and town governments were in the hands of people who had been elected as Democrats – Dutchess County normally is strongly Republican – Mr. Roosevelt said he still would feel there was room for improvement in local government.
No matter how much those in the federal government or at Albany strive to plan and carry out improvements, interest in local government is essential.
Simplification of local government is essential. Constant local vigilance is essential. Scrutiny of the records of those who represent you and ask a renewal of your confidence is essential.