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Republican campaign poster outrages English village

CNN logo CNN 10/31/2018 By Lianne Kolirin, CNN
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera © from stella for congress

A Republican politician from Illinois has angered the residents of a coastal English village by featuring a picture of its streets to depict "foreclosures, unemployment and economic recession."

Last week the Facebook page of Dr. Nick Stella, a Republican who's running to represent the 11th Illinois congressional district in the US midterm elections next week, posted an advertisement headlined: "Only you can stop this from becoming reality!"

Last week the Facebook page of Dr. Nick Stella posted this advertisement headlined: "Only you can stop this from becoming reality!" © from stella for congress Last week the Facebook page of Dr. Nick Stella posted this advertisement headlined: "Only you can stop this from becoming reality!"

It was aimed at attacking Stella's Democrat opponent and the district incumbent, Bill Foster. But bizarrely, it featured an image of a residential street in Jaywick Sands in the UK's eastern county of Essex.

The picture depicts two rows of run-down bungalows, along a pothole-strewn street. A billboard is superimposed on the image, congratulating Nancy Pelosi, currently the minority leader in the House of Representatives.

Beneath the picture, a caption reads: "Help President Trump keep America on track and thriving. A vote for Foster is a vote for speaker Pelosi. We can't go back to foreclosures, unemployment and economic recession!"

In 2015 Jaywick Sands was revealed as the most deprived town in England in statistics released by the UK government. As a result of the report, images of the village often crop up when searching online using terms like "rundown town."

Paul Honeywood, Tendring District Council cabinet member with special responsibility for Jaywick Sands, said it was appalling to use the image for political gain in this way.

"For starters, Dr. Stella is very out of date -- Essex County Council completed a two-year £6.5 million program to improve the roads and drainage in Jaywick Sands in 2017," Honeywood said.

A typical street scene before the investment in Jaywick Sands. © Tendring District Council A typical street scene before the investment in Jaywick Sands.

"Since the old image used in this campaign poster was taken support from government, Essex County Council and other bodies has helped to build upon the work we as a council we're already doing to improve the quality of life for residents."

Honeywood called Jaywick Sands "a community that's on the up" and invited Stella to visit the village to see for himself "rather than engaging in this sort of negative campaigning."

"I know that many Jaywick Sands residents will be outraged at being smeared in this way and rightly so," he added.

The view of Jaywick Sands in 2018, following considerable investment. © Paul Nixon Photography TDC The view of Jaywick Sands in 2018, following considerable investment.

Raquel Mitchell, director of operations for the Stella campaign, told CNN that Jaywick Sands was never identified in the poster, which remains online.

"Our intent was never to smear the town in the photo, now known to us as Jaywick Sands in Essex. We never used the name. For us it was an example of a town overburdened by poor governance, which is exactly what we in our district are seeking to prevent at every level.

"We have learned and it is great to know the town pictured has recovered from economic hardship. Let it serve as an an example of how government responding to the needs of the people can overcome hardship. May those days remain well behind us!"

Responding to the open invitation to visit, Mitchell said: "I'm sure Jayhawk Sands is charming. Perhaps a future visit would be a great way to exchange ideas between the two areas."

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