Shoot the messenger. Burn an effigy with a mop of black hair and too much eye makeup. Send hate mail. Well, not really, but I want your brutal opinion. These are my thoughts and I want every metaphorical rotten tomato hurled at my lack of sound logic.
The other night I attended the School Board Candidate Forum at the Garden Club, which the Kleeges had graciously offered as the venue, with Bruce (and one of his darling sons) as MC and Todd and Nicole Mikles as the generous hosts of the event.
As Bruce made clear in his introduction, this was about creating an open forum for the candidates to present themselves and freely voice their opinions so voters could make an educated decision about whom to choose. Sounds like good old fashioned democracy to me.
Maybe it’s that new virulent strain of "political fatigue" going around, where all one desperately wants is for the entire world to please shut up. All the noise on the national level could make anyone feel a bit sick of it all, even locally. I get it. And, yes, I know, the forum was on a Sunday night. I was in sweats and a hoodie. My daughter was inappropriately barefoot and doing cartwheels out front in the dark. And for the record, I’m hardly one to throw stones about one’s attendance at anything. All moms incontrivertibly get a hall pass for everything (except not having wet wipes or vodka handy). You too, dads.
Last RSFA election while friends were rightfully enjoying themselves at the school’s “A Creative Affair” art auction at the Inn (don’t miss this one on Thursday), I was on stage getting heckled from a disgruntled octogenarian in the back row of the annual Town Hall Meeting. So I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to see a smiling face or a nod in agreement (even if the person's not really listening) in the audience. Again, whatever you believe about this special election, isn’t that cause enough to come along? Silent protest no-shows are all the rage in the Trump era, but I was pleased to see current Board Member Sarah Neal’s face in the crowd. She was also able to provide insight during the Q&A on school security which benefited the dialogue.
In the end, whoever wins, I refuse to believe that running in a contested election doesn’t help a candidate, no matter how polished, define who they are and what they believe further. And this process will unquestionably make them a better Board Member. When you have to explain yourself to the voting public, it’s miraculous how it focuses the mind and, as I’ve mentioned before, makes or keeps you deeply humble. Like tripping and then face-planting on a public stage. Ever done that? It’s like Eckhart Tolle on bath salts. You’ve never been more alive and dead all at once. Listening to others and engaging with a wider public may just influence one’s mind and change it altogether. And that is a fundamentally beautiful thing.
Being open to the possibility of change, questioning our preconceived ideas, and realizing none of us has all the answers, are critical to our development as human beings. We all know the Platonic platitude of the importance of being cognizant of one’s own ignorance. I learned all this (again) the hard way very recently. I had held an old grudge about a person whom I had really never even met. The psychological “other” I had created was all based on rumor and folklore. When I was faced with the prospect of meeting them I recoiled, then seconds later, obliged. And I am the better for it. When you are forced to meet the deluded Quijote giant you’ve constructed in your mind, usually you disarm quite quickly because you realize it was really just, well, a windmill (or actually a harmless and rather interesting human). When you see people swallow their pride, show up and own who they are, it’s not only a defining moment, but kind of ironically liberating. I highly recommend it, except for the profuse sweating and Subsaharan dry mouth part (think Albert Brooks on camera in the movie Broadcast News).
The RSF Post has reached out to ALL candidates and to ALL our readers requesting that they provide us with submissions regarding the election, provided there are no personal attacks made. If you don’t see something posted you agree with, don’t just stew over it, throw a rotten tomato and send us your submissions. To echo Bruce’s words, we are here to create an open forum for dialogue about our community and the issues that matter to all of us.
It's important to remind ourselves that all of these candidates are running for a volunteer position that can often be difficult and thankless. The current Board Members and these candidates are your fellow parents, friends, and neighbors who all share a similar goal: improving the lives of our children.
Congratulations to the five candidates in advance. I commend all of them for their commitment, strength, and, most of all, for showing up.