Don’t be silent
BY DON NELSON
The intense and confidential work of narrowing down potential candidates for the Methow Valley School District superintendent’s position to a short list is nearly done. The public’s part will begin soon.
The school board is interviewing finalists this week in executive sessions. Beginning next Wednesday (May 29), the candidates who survive will return for a long day of meetings with school employees, students and the general public. Check out next week’s Methow Valley News for more information about the community forums.
The forums are an opportunity for residents to ask questions and assess the finalists’ strengths. It’s important that people who care about how this community’s children are educated show up at the public meetings. A superintendent’s public persona isn’t the most important qualification, but how a candidate responds to direct, probing questions will say something about their leadership ability.
In the running
The tepid response to filings for local elected public offices is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising.
Only a few contests will be actual contests. Most positions drew only one candidate, and most of those candidates are incumbents.
It’s not easy to be a local politician, even if the positions aren’t especially political (all of them are non-partisan). There’s little or no compensation involved, the hours can be long, the issues complex, the decisions controversial, the criticism ugly and personal. Payback comes mainly in a sense of doing something important for the community. It’s not always easy in smaller jurisdictions to find people who are ready to take on the responsibilities and consequences of office.
Then there’s the public attitude problem. Universal anti-government grumbling has become tiresome and essentially meaningless. Government-hating is a trite fallback position for uninformed people who don’t have anything useful to say. It’s just background noise.
Actually running for office is what people do if they are serious about affecting how things work. So offer a “thank you” to those who have held office, are seeking to continue holding office, or are trying for the first time.
Speaking of public officials, we applaud the hard work that council members from Twisp and Winthrop are putting into the question of how the communities will provide policing in the future. It probably feels like a slow trudge through tedious process for those involved, but the discussions so far seem to be pointing in the right direction.
There will be tough choices to make and it’s probable that not everyone will be happy. Community pride, turf disputes and practical considerations will all play roles in how the issue is resolved. Acknowledging that complexity is crucial. More important is sustaining the willingness to battle through to a solution that suits the communities’ needs for a long time.