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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term, "collateral damage," as: "injury inflicted on something other than an intended target; specifically: civilian casualties of a military operation."

I guess the campaign for the Board of Selectmen seat that ended with this past Tuesday's election was a military campaign. I say that because – during the debate held on a local radio station on the morning of March 25 – Nelly's Sandwich Shop on Central Street and its owner, Natalia "Nelly Marques," became collateral damage.

It seems that because Selectman Bill Buckley and Selectman Will Kingkade – along with many other Milford residents including other town officials – like to stop at Nelly's and grab a sandwich and soda, that the restaurant became fair game in the election.

It was alleged in that debate – without any supporting information to back up the debate host's claim – that Buckley and Kingkade were seen meeting at Nelly's to plan how they would vote at a future Board of Selectmen meeting to appoint a new clerk for the Town Treasurer's office.

During that radio debate, Nelly's owners were described by the debate host as being tax deadbeats who hadn't paid their property taxes in several years and were about to be foreclosed upon by the town.

Just to clear that up, I talked to Tax Collector Terry Dias and found that Nelly's – like several other businesses in town – is on a payment plan for its property taxes. And, as of the day of that debate, Nelly's was current with its promised payments.

The question for the candidates was whether they would patronize a place, such as Nelly's, that owed taxes to the town. Candidate Pat Holland had a great response. He said that his father, attorney George Holland, upon hearing news that a local business was having "trouble," would encourage his family and friends to help the business out by buying things there.

A lot of people must have heard Pat Holland say that, because Nelly's was packed the following day – even more so than usual. Trust Milfordians to support a Milford business.

It's no secret to Nelly's customers or to Natalia Marques' family and friends why the business is on a tax payment plan. I'm not going to violate her privacy by publicizing the reasons. Nelly herself said what she wants to say on the subject in the scathing Facebook post she wrote after she became campaign fodder.

During that radio debate, the incumbent referred to Nelly's as a "barroom." My trusty Merriam-Webster's defines that as "a room or establishment whose main feature is a bar for the sale of liquor." You decide, because Nelly's does serve beer and wine along with its sandwiches.

I'm not trying to get people to go to Nelly's by writing this column. It's not meant to be a free ad for them. I'm just trying to point out that there was no valid reason to make the sandwich shop and its owner become collateral damage in a local political campaign.

Is any local business where a local official eats at or shops at now fair game? Let's hope not. Milford is better than that.


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