Keep politics out of it

Published 8:50 pm Saturday, June 26, 2010

Earlier this month, following the qualifying period for the November elections, we offered a challenge to each of the 17 candidates who had entered local races for school board and city council.

We said the following, “we simply ask of them that they be both open and honest, that they come prepared and that they enter these races with the best interests of their constituents — and not any specific special interest group — at heart.”

In doing so, we also praised these individuals for being civic minded enough to put themselves out into the open for public scrutiny and questioning.

This was not just our hope — that they would stick to the issues — but our call to action for them; a call to leave politics out of the equation when it came to the best interests for our city and our school system.

Only a few weeks into the process, it appears politics is unfortunately playing a large part in one key decision. That decision is the one on where a new school will be located in the south end of the city.

A school designed to bring together the students of Southwestern Elementary and Robertson Elementary and save the school system tremendous money, has become a political football and that is truly a shame.

You would hope the best interests of the students and the school system would be at the center of these decisions rather than ensuring votes are earned in a particular voting district.

But we guess we were a little nave to think such a decision could be reached openly, honestly and without ulterior motives.

And if that decision was not key enough, the upcoming search for a new superintendent is just ahead of us.

The selection of candidates, interviews and the ultimate selection rests with a body that has many of its own members up for re-election.

As we said in our earlier editorial, the decisions facing both the school board and city council are far too important for petty politics to play a role. We need strong leaders to make tough decisions — even if those decisions prove unpopular or politically damaging.

Our leaders and those seeking office should act as if they are truly public servants, rather than the other way around.