Tuesday, voters in Warsaw go to the polls to choose the Republican nominee for mayor.

Two-term incumbent Mayor Joe Thallemer and City Councilman Ron Shoemaker are seeking the nomination.

Let me say for the record, I live in Syracuse, so I won’t be casting a vote for either of them.

Nonetheless, since I have worked in this town at this newspaper for 31 years, I  have an interest in the race.

I would never tell anyone how to vote, but I would like to share a few observations about this race that are troubling.

This race, I believe, is a microcosm of all that is wrong with social media. Truly, I have never seen anything like it.

A small group of folks in town have launched some anonymous “news” websites and Facebook pages. On these pages you will find all manner of “news” about the mayor. Problem is, most of what you see on these sites has no basis in fact. Some of it is personal attacks leveled at the mayor and his family.

I fail to see how scraping pictures of the mayor’s family at the beach and making fun of “Shirtless Joe” is helpful in the marketplace of election ideas, but that’s just me.

Some of the stuff is easy to recognize as exaggerated. Some of it is preposterous. One post had a screenshot of a Google Maps page showing the mayor's house. The post claimed a team of hackers – trying to hack political websites critical of the mayor – were “traced” to his house and that this information had been sent to the FBI Cyber Crimes Division.

The mayor has been repeatedly accused of malfeasance on these sites – they call him “Crooked Joe” – with no basis in fact.

The mayor is accused of trying to “shut down the fairgrounds.” This is an illogical outgrowth of a lawsuit filed by Winona Lake property owners. The mayor is not part of the suit.

The mayor is accused of pushing an unnecessary sewer expansion and raising sewer rates for no good reason, when, undoubtedly, the city’s sewer system is nearing capacity and, by state statute, must be expanded.

I actually engaged these folks online once regarding the sewer expansion. I thoughtfully quoted state statutes and sewer capacity surveys that clearly showed Warsaw's sewer system was, in fact, near capacity and was, in fact, mandated to be expanded.

Then I asked the anonymous administrator of the site what would motivate the mayor to push for an unnecessary sewer expansion and rate hike? The answer?

And I quote, “You tell us, Gary. You’re the mayor’s lapdog.”

Ah yes, brilliant riposte.

The latest exaggeration came in the form of a tort claim filed against the city council, the county, the Indiana State Police and the mayor by one of the mayor’s most vocal critics.

He claims his phones were confiscated by the ISP – as commanded by the mayor – because he was recording a city meeting.

This, of course, presupposes that ISP detectives would allow themselves to be manipulated by the mayor of Warsaw to target his political opponents.

That’s patently absurd.

Truth be told, his phones were confiscated because he is the target of an ISP investigation into his online activities.

The misinformation goes on and on.

• The mayor is a racist.

• The mayor directed the county election board to change polling locations to Center Lake Pavilion to suppress voter turnout.

• The mayor told the county election board when to start early voting.

• The mayor was responsible for the potholes on Commerce Drive and did nothing to fix them.

• The mayor received illegal campaign contributions.

• The mayor donated money to the fairgrounds lawsuit.

• The mayor’s street was resurfaced last year at his direction.

• The mayor wasted taxpayer money on the downtown alley project.

• The mayor harassed senior citizens by putting unwanted campaign signs in their yards.

• The mayor is responsible for the closing of Arnolt Corp. and Gatke.

All of this, of course, is demonstrably false.

The problem is that a certain segment of the population actually believes this stuff.

Certainly, public officials are not above criticism. I’ve disagreed with the mayor. I’ve written columns critical of the mayor. But I try to be fair about it. I base criticism on facts.

I understand that writing this makes me – and the Times-Union – part of the conspiracy. I know I will be belittled online. Maybe they’ll even scrape some pictures of my family and make fun of them, too. That’s how they roll.

By any objective measure – taxes, infrastructure, economic development, recreation, entertainment – the city of Warsaw is in pretty good shape. Frankly, a lot of like-size towns envy Warsaw.

Look, I don’t care who you vote for.

If you want a different mayor because you don’t like where you have to put your trash can, so be it. All I ask is that you make your decision based on facts and truth.

Facts and truth matter.

Unfortunately, in this election cycle, certain social media outlets have made a mockery of facts and truth.