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.