Like it or not, mudslinging and animosity come with the territory during gubernatorial, Congressional and presidential campaigns. Often, mayoral and state legislative races can also become mired in such muck. That can rarely be said about a school board contest.
In Douglas County, however, this is one of those rare times. The name-calling and attack ads are enough to make the folks in Washington proud.
To be sure, the stakes are high in the race for four seats on the Douglas County School Board.
One slate of four candidates — two of whom are incumbents — seeks to continue the current board's reforms, which include a voucher program and a pay-for-performance plan for teachers. The opposing slate believes the high-achieving Douglas County School District wasn't broken, so it doesn't need to be fixed by far-reaching and disruptive reform efforts.
That's a quick and simplistic overview, of course. The issues and the rancor they've sparked are complex and can't be fully explained in one editorial, much less one paragraph. The point is, this is a big election and the candidates have real, stark differences of opinion on how education should be administered in the county.
We appreciate the passion the county's people — including candidates, parents and teachers — have shown over these issues. It is a testimony to how high of a regard they have for education. We struggle to think of anything more important.
But differences of opinion don't have to devolve into something resembling hatred. And at times, that's what we've seen.
Douglas County is affluent, its people highly educated. It is a place where people put a priority on family.
Unfortunately, the commonalities shared by so many have meant so little, it seems. Instead, differences of opinion have swollen into divisiveness. That's truly a sad thing for a county that has a burgeoning reputation among businesses and individuals as a prime destination to put down roots. We have to wonder what impact the hostility over school district issues will have on the county's economic and population growth.
But there's still time. Whomever you vote for, whoever is announced the winner after election results are released the night of Nov. 5, make civility a priority.
There really is no doomsday scenario in this election, high as the stakes may be. This vote is about a matter of direction, of people having differences of opinion over how to run a school district. The schools will not crumble, despite what some say.
It doesn't have to be “us versus them.”
While this election may determine a lot of things, don't let it decide how you treat your neighbor.