The political discord in the nation is not new, despite media attempts to tell you that it is, or that it is at some new, higher level. The truth is that Americans have been divided for as long as we’ve been a nation and the only difference today is the major increase in the ways each side can communicate their frustrations.
The Founding Fathers did not envision Twitter or Facebook. But if they had, they would have assumed that like the newspapers and the town crier, the communication would remain civil.
It is one of the very few areas in which they exhibited such nearsighted judgment.
People have always been upset. “Drain the swamp!” “Throw the bums out!” and all the other references to a change in the scallywags are ancient. Back in 1964, Robert Kennedy said, “About one-fifth of the people are upset with everything all the time.”
But that’s where the conundrum begins: Multiple reputable surveys over the years have shown that while people are sick and tired of the bums in Washington or Sacramento or in Newport-Mesa, they think their own representative is OK. Not all the time in every election, but most of the time in every election.
This year in the N-MUSD races is no different. In Area 2, as of this writing, incumbent Charlene Metoyer holds a 381 vote lead over challenger Michelle Murphy. Metoyer has been in office four years and while she has not distinguished herself in any meaningful way, she has also managed to avoid any major missteps, save for her votes supporting the most poorly run administration in memory.
But another truth is that most people voting for school board seats don’t know beans about what’s going on in the school district. So it is remarkable then that Murphy could do so well.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps Murphy’s strong showing is part her well-run campaign, and part the anti-incumbent fever coursing through the nation.
Murphy’s campaign is even more remarkable when you consider that she did not resort to the usual campaign playbook moves and attack the incumbent. Nothing. Even when Metoyer violated district policy and featured district staff on a late mailer – at least two of whom did not give their permission – Murphy continued to run one of the cleanest, most respectful campaigns we have ever seen. She is to be respected, admired, and appreciated for the example she set, which will be something she should be proud to share with her children and grandchildren.
Thank you, Michelle Murphy.
Then we have Area 7, where incumbent Karen Yelsey won with 69% of the vote. What will be lost on Yelsey is the fact that Dr. Gina Nick, a complete unknown and a relatively new resident in the area – got almost a third of the vote.
Nick showed very well despite Yelsey resorting to personal attacks on Nick. Nick made no personal attacks in response and while that may have cost some her some votes, she, too, can hold her head high.
Yelsey, on the other hand, should be embarrassed at the lengths she went to cling to her office, but she won’t be.
Thank you, Gina Nick.
The biggest lesson of all will be lost on both Metoyer and Yelsey. That lesson is the monumental victory of Measure H, which limits trustee terms to 12 years. As of a few minutes ago, it passed with 84%.
Let that sink in for just a moment…
Passage by 84% and the re-election of two undeserving incumbents means that the surveys are right: People are fed up but think their trustee is doing at least OK.
The school board status quo is changing and the pace of change is accelerating. In about 18 months, campaigns for the other three trustee seats will begin in earnest and we’ll see new challengers bringing new ideas and new leadership to the board.
The time for change has long past. Taxpayers, parents, and anyone else in N-M have suffered too long with the arrogance and ineffectiveness of the current trustees.
This is not a job for life.