Character traits & personal reputation are key criteria for voters. Elected officials are often criticized & resign from office following revelations of public drunkenness, extramarital affairs, bribery, "consorting" with minors... Candidates, who in the past or present, have associated with or members of the KKK and other hate groups have difficulty being elected. Character has always played an important part in politics & we need only look at the recent presidential elections to realize how important character is & how openly it is discussed. No one was sued over calling Trump the tangerine racist nor was anyone fined for calling Clinton a greedy bitch.
Still the post "The Facts" is correct, the important part of slander/libel/defamation is whether or not the statement can be proven true or false. Is it nice to call Carl a drunk? My personal opinion is no. Have people witnessed certain elected officials Intoxicated in public - absolutely - and whether politicians like it or not, the public has a double standard. Jane and John Doe can get tipsy or drunk at the local bar but let one politician over indulge & start swaying or slurring speech and it's all over town. We know who they are, we aren't blind & we don't like it.
The bottom line is elected officials who are drunk or under the influence in public cast doubt on their decision making abilities. What does it take for an incumbent to arrive at the courthouse appearing severely intoxicated - slurred speech, unstable walk, tearful & anxious about whether or not s/ he will be re-elected? What does it mean if the same person called a citizen & was so drunk he was unable to finish the conversation & he seemed to pass out while on the phone? What happens when an inebriated elected official shows up at your business asking for a favor? What does it mean if a candidate has done all these things or only one?
Character matters and local voters have learned the hard way that voting for a sweet old man who wouldn't raise his hand to swat a fly- might mean he also won't raise his hand to vote against an incompetent superintendent. Voters have learned that electing that nice lady that goes to church on Broadway Street & takes care of her mom might also mean she will only listen to the people who go to her church, only take care of people she loves and refuse to care about the needs & desires of protesting students, frustrated teachers & enraged parents. Those who voted for one of their favorite teachers from days gone by probably realize now that just because they liked her as teacher doesn't mean she likes them now or that she even cares what they have to say; she might even hate them enough to abide their trust, waste their money and plot to intentionally destroy public assets
You bet character matters. More than whether a person is nice or what Church they attend or whether or not they were an educator.
finally, I am often alarmed when people "run to their buddy's defense" by claiming others have "no proof" or the statements are false. It seems foolish to ask people to tell their stories about the last time Carl was drunk or drinking in public. If one wishes for the conversation to shift away from hard topics- then drawing attention and igniting the debate is a poor strategy especially on a news outlet as well read as the Free Press.