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Despite mayoral candidate Cory Mason voicing opposition to the city building an arena, the Journal Times ran an advertorial for his opponent Sandy Weidner that stated Mason was “largely silent” on the issue.

Mason refuted those claims saying that he has been vocal about being against the arena for weeks. His position statements have been printed by the Journal Times, the Racine County Eye, candidate forums, and on his Facebook page.

An advertorial is a paid column that looks like an article, but it is written by the person who paid for the ad. A group called Citizens to Elect Sandy Weidner paid for her advertorial, which ran on Sunday.

The two are vying for former Racine Mayor John Dickert’s seat in a special election on Oct. 17. Dickert announced his resignation in March but officially left office in August. During Dickert’s announcement, Mason addressed the city and announced he was running for Mayor.

Mason Chastises Weidner For Advertorial

Titled “Weidner will veto arena,” the advertorial stated that Mason “has been largely silent about the Arena” and pointed to his connection to Dickert.

According to the advertorial:

“Given his close connections with the former mayor, he is most likely for it, but does not want to come out and say so because he has learned that the Arena is extremely unpopular with Racine taxpayers. He should commit to a position on the Arena and not try to hide from it until after the election.”

In a prepared statement, Mason pointed to a video he posted on his Facebook page on Sept. 8, a story that ran in the Journal Times titled “All six candidates oppose event center” Sept. 13, and a story titled “Some candidates oppose hotel, event center” that ran in the Racine County Eye on Sept. 11.

The story that ran in the Racine County Eye was an online candidate forum, meaning Mason wrote the response. In that story, Mason said he realized after talking to voters that the project wasn’t being well received by the public. And without the financing or the public support, Racine should not move forward with the proposal.

In response to Weidner’s advertorial, Mason issued the following statement:

“It takes a special kind of dishonesty to vote for something, run against it, and then lie about your opponent’s position. I am against the Arena project, period. I have said so in the Journal Times, The Racine County Eye, in a video on my campaign Facebook page, and when I was sitting next to Sandy Weidner at a community forum.”

Weidner Responds to Mason

Racine County Eye reached out to Weidner about the discrepancy between her advertorial and the documents. She said she hadn’t heard or seen Mason come out directly against the Arena.

“I have not seen anything in writing that says he (Mason) will veto the arena,” Weidner said. “I, however, will do everything in my power to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”

Weidner explained that Mason’s campaign is being funded by people who support the arena, which leads her to believe that Mason would flip-flop on the issue if he is elected.

“First he was for it and now he’s not,” she said. “I believe he will flip-flop on this again once he’s in office. I won’t unless there’s a referendum held and the taxpayers say they want to fund it, or a developer wants to build it on their own dime.”

Mason Silent On Whether Donors Support Arena

After being asked about whether Mason’s contributors support the arena, he pointed to how Weidner voted to fund phase one of the study for the event center in a Committee of the Whole meeting but then voted not to fund it at a Common Council meeting.

“Voters are sick of City Hall politicians like Sandy Weidner not being straight with them. Sandy needs to own her vote to put $600,000 towards the project, instead of blaming other people for her mistakes. That’s not leadership. That’s why we need a change at City Hall.”

In response, Weidner said Mason was “deliberately misinterpreting” her vote.

“I did reconsider my vote,” she said “That’s why we have a committee of the whole…. After I voted, I was taking under advisement what my constituents wanted and I received a number of phone calls from people who were against it. So when that vote counted, I voted against it. The Common Council vote is what generates action. The Committee of the Whole vote is an advisory vote. And the Common Council vote is the only vote that mattered.”

Racine County Eye did reach out to the Journal Times for comment about the advertorial, but nothing was received by the time this article was published.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.