They say you’re supposed to write two different versions of remarks for a post-election statement. We didn’t, with one small exception: Our sincere congratulations to Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, Chris Schultz, and Wendy Francour on their re-election and our gratification that truth and integrity prevailed. We only prepared one version, not out of any overpowering sense of victory or foreboding of defeat, but out of the conviction that no matter the outcome, there can be no real triumph. Any victory would be Pyrrhic, particularly when the collateral damage has been to our children, the lives of dedicated people working on their behalf, and the very fabric of our community.
None of this should ever have happened. The flimsy, ever-changing rationale for the recall, even when containing grains of truth, were never remotely close to reaching the threshold of malfeasance that recalls were intended to combat.
Once an election was scheduled, it very quickly became clear that there were larger machinations at play. Numerous partisan groups stepped out of the shadows to declare they would be overtly helping the recall / restore effort. When the financial disclosures came out, it was even more obvious. This wasn’t really about any of the recall rationales. It was about selfish people who recognized an opportunity to exploit our community to serve their own interests.
We are grateful to the hundreds of community members who came together to make a stand. It was an incredibly diverse group of individuals whose web of different viewpoints created a stronger unified body and made us all better.
As a community, we are at a crossroads. We can shrug our shoulders and let the partisanship continue to seep into every aspect of our public lives, or we can continue to fight back against the very reason these local elections became non-partisan in the first place. This is an important distinction. Non-partisan elections are not an anachronism of some more genteel age. Local elections were specifically changed to protect local institutions from officeholders whose goal was to perpetuate political power rather than serving their public. Reverting to that partisan-driven model would not be in the best interests of the public.
It’s not going to be easy. The damage to our community and its schools has been extensive. Keeping and attracting talent will certainly be adversely affected. The idea that our society has a foundation of commonality from which our views deviate seems to be, at the very least, crumbling. Fortunately, the latter is, in all probability, an illusion fueled by social media and entertainment masquerading as news. That doesn’t mean defeating it will be simple, but the local level is the best place to start.
To begin, we offer this olive branch: Our position was never about specific policy. It was about truth and non-partisanship. Anyone with ideas on how to improve our schools: Please speak out or run for election. We welcome hearing from those that do so respectfully in good faith and without any partisan backing. We look forward to a collaboration of those with different viewpoints, just as we within the Coalition have from each other. Our community can only benefit from those who are coming together with only its best interests in mind.
However, to those who would lie, manipulate, and invite outside influences to promote specific ideologies on our community – you are not welcome here. We will continue to confront you head on. We’re not going anywhere.
Our children are watching.