I can claim that I am an elected school trustee. So can the school board members in Fortine and Eureka. Yet I (and probably most of them) was elected by acclamation. There may be a more politically correct way to describe it – but the reality is that I was elected without anyone voting for me. A lot of school trustees share that reality – but I don’t believe it is a good situation.
The challenge is that, on far too many local boards and commissions, we have the same situation. When a candidate can be elected by acclamation, without a single vote on a ballot, the concept of representative government breaks down. On local district boards, it has broken.
The first reason to be nice to the candidates – all of them – is that they have expressed a willingness to spend time in meetings. I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings. Faculty meetings, departmental meetings, board meetings. Usually I left with the feeling that a couple of hours of my life had just been taken from me. I don’t care which party a candidate belongs to – he or she has expressed a willingness to attend meetings. That deserves courtesy at the least.
Encouraging more candidates – being nice to them, regardless of party, just might reduce the need for term limits. Often, we wind up with a long-serving politico who claims 10, 20 or 30 years of experience, but actually has two years experience repeated 5, 10 or 15 times.
Encourage the candidates. Reduce the unpleasantness of running for office – any office. I will feel that I have done my job as a school trustee well if a better candidate beats me like a drum, with over half the district actually voting. Elected by acclamation is a mark of a democracy in decline.
1 thought on “Be Nice to the Candidates”
I agree with the trend to removing local elections of politicians from the people is wrong. As a people, we need to step in and require a return to direct voting in of local officials. Including Board members of schools, medical Boards, people who have the authority to shut businesses down, etc. We need to be able to fire them if they over step their bounds. If being “nice” means not disagreeing with someone, then I disagree with that. If being nice means civil disagreement and discourse, until resolution is achieved for that moment, then yes, I agree. But term limits are critical. Human psychology kicks in when there is power. Power is often achieved when someone is in office for too long and there is no one to dispute them. Elected officials and public officials need to be answerable to the people. Not to their own agendas. Term limits can help with that and it was how our Founders envisioned things. Political office was never supposed to be about a career. It was to rotate the authority and headaches among the governed and then go back to being one of the people. We do need more people stepping up. Maybe that should be a requirement of citizenship. To serve for at least two – four years somewhere in the government system – federal or state or local. That way, we all know what it’s like and we are motivated to work with each other a bit more. Thank you for your service, though. It’s tough to do what you do.
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