The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Shut It Off and Show Up

Election season is a three-ring-circus of angst and gauche preschool-colored political signs. It’s the cultural equivalent of Instagram choking my feed with images of the Met Gala’s smorgasbord of celebrity self worship like cheap corn shoved down the neck of a foie-gras duck. Even with Kanye MIA, this (sac?)religious-inspired peacocking was like self flagellation in reverse. I’ve got a bad case of indigestion and have just morphed into a pillar of salt.

But I digress. With the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters certifying on Tuesday, May 8, that Tom Barton has officially won the School Board Special Election with 48.96% of the vote (Jon Yonemitsu came in second at 38.51%), I was relieved that this was at least one less event to be dissected and beaten into a fat pile of acrimony. Until November. Blood sport indeed.

I sound deeply jaded, but clearly I’m not alone. Out of the 4,321 registered voters in our district, only 1,062 cast ballots in this mail-in election. What is there still snow in Park City? No judgment here, for there are days I won’t place an online order because I can't be asked to get up and find my credit card. But that number is a statistical middle finger.

Amongst developed countries, US voter turnout ranks just above Melania Trump’s home town, so I guess this is a macro trend manifesting itself in our little pastoral microcosm. Disillusionment? Indifference? A deep sense of futility? Saudi women have just earned the "privilege" of driving and may just be able to swim fully clothed in a public pool this century without being stoned, but we’re over here rolling our eyes, like, "election shmelection." Who knows why so many of us didn’t vote, but this fact makes it clear that every ballot makes a big difference. So do I really have to beg? Neighbors pretty please check those boxes for the upcoming RSFA election (ballots mailed out today, May 10, and due June 11), and later this year in November when two Rowe School Board seats will be up for grabs once again: One that Mr. Barton has just filled from Marti Ritto’s resignation, and the other currently held by President Todd Frank.

The pool of School Board candidates and the platforms they ran on were wide-ranging and diverse, which made for a compelling race. As a current Yale PhD’d USD professor and author, Mr. Barton told the RSF Review that he will draw on his background and career in higher education to help the Board be more effective with school resources, and to “govern with greater transparency and inclusiveness. If we can work together and be more responsive to community input, we will be able to realize our full potential and outperform other top schools throughout the county and state.”

Like I said before, I know that politics can be bare-knuckled and cringe-inducing, so I commend all candidates who chuck a little caution, sanity and ego out the proverbial window while the rest of us smugly kvetch and point from the sidelines. I hope that with this election and those too soon to almost bear, that we can all kumbaya ourselves into working together openly and harmoniously. A while back I read this New York Times Magazine article entitled, "What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team," and it struck a chord. After a lot of tireless and futile head scratching to understand what the magic component was that made for a perfect working team of people, the mega brains at Google hired a Yale grad with a psych degree to figure it out. What she found was that the lynchpin to a utopian crew was "psychological safety," wherein which team members showed empathy and understanding to their fellow coworker. Trust and mutual respect allowed each member to discuss ideas freely without worrying that they would be attacked or ridiculed. It’s so simple, but pretty deep. And it can apply to just about everything and everyone, including our local School Board. Can I get an Amen?

As my spirit animal and current School Board Member Sarah Neal so gracefully and diplomatically expressed in her article on the RSF Post, one of the most important elements in these elections is to be informed, understand the facts, and stay involved. And one of the best ways of achieving the latter is attending RSFA and School Board meetings. I think that was a shout out to people like me who need to step away from the social media, put down the Iphone, and be present — not just mindful, but like legit physically present. That’s a tall order when Doodle the teacup Frenchie has dropped another adorbs barking meme and Kim K’s unicorn of a plastic surgeon has just posted pre- and post-op pics of another extensively amplified posterior forthwith resembling a carnival ferris wheel. But if our brave friends and neighbors can run for local office, the least I can do is show up.