Congratulations to both Wendy Francour and Kate Barikmo on their victories in the Spring Election for seats on the Mequon-Thiensville School Board. We are optimistic that both can be positive advocates for our children and district. We look forward to seeing what they can accomplish in service to our community.
Unfortunately, there was a profoundly big loser last night: nonpartisan local elections. While we are grateful that Mequon-Thiensville’s exposure to outside interference had limits, our neighboring communities demonstrated the overall problem of outside partisan influence in local elections is getting worse, not better.
Whether it be overt political party involvement in Cedarburg, absurd campaign spending in Wauwatosa, a teachers union putting their thumb on the scale in Milwaukee, or a continuation of Dick and Liz Uihlein’s reprehensible behavior in - well, everywhere, it is clear our local governments are under a deep threat.
We applaud public statements by both Sergey Babakhanov and Megan Heinzelman that they did not cash the checks sent to them by outside partisan groups. We fully expect their final campaign finance reports to bear this out.
However, it is also apparent that is not enough to stop these outside partisan groups from trying to influence local elections. It is not enough to say, ‘they did this without my permission’. It is not enough to say, ‘I did not accept this endorsement because I did not list it on my website’. Candidates must now step up and publicly say, ‘I reject this influence.’ ‘I reject what this group is trying to do and I do not want my name associated with it. Remove me.’
This is an opportunity. If we as a community really want to reduce the division, this is how. If we all really believe in nonpartisan local elections, we need to reject these outside groups together.
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Faced with a novel, globally catastrophic event, everyone in the MTSD worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students. We are incredibly fortunate that our children and educators have been and continue to be resilient. We should be proud of our district and applaud their efforts.
Effective school boards are accountability driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement.
We should not fall prey to the partisan politics movement aimed at school boards that is sweeping across our nation. We are better together. Our volunteer School Board members are servant leaders who work together with administration toward our district’s vision: "Each student, every time, empowered to succeed.”