August 31, 2004 > Editorial: Back to Business
Editorial: Back to Business
As students return to school and the days shorten, summer vacation plans are put to rest for another year, political life begins to liven up for the November elections. Although the hard core politicos have been working themselves into a frenzy for several months, most voters have yet to be bombarded by the slogans, promises and ads that are soon to appear. Amid the confusion that will reign as arguments and counter arguments are sure to surface, it is the voter's right to step back from the labels, scare tactics and bombast to assess what is reasonable and right for their own welfare.
This year, local elections will include a variety of positions that are high profile such as city council positions including two mayoral posts. However, there are other positions that are important and will be contested as well. It is not enough to focus on labels, political parties or name recognition. In the Tri-Cities, these factors have often been a ticket to office without regard to how long someone has served and how well they have functioned in that position.
Typically, voters pay little attention to special districts such as the Ohlone College Board and the Board of Washington Hospital, but this year, important choices will be made involving the disposition of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Ohlone College is in the midst of creating a Newark campus with monies barely approved by the voters. The board has lost the confidence of the Newark City Council when working on a joint library project and other major decisions lie ahead. Close scrutiny of the board is required and an understanding of how present board member actions have affected the college should be clarified.
Washington Hospital will also feature contests for board seats. A request for bond monies needs to be understood and the management of the hospital scrutinized. This is not in response to any sense of wrongdoing, but rather an exercise of the public's right to know and assess how things are going. It is refreshing to find challenges for these special interest areas (with the exception of the Alameda County Water District where there were no challenges) since it allows incumbents to present their record and explain why they should remain while giving others a chance to compete for the public's vote.
School board members will be reviewed during the election as well. The recent case at Mission High School involving the Athletic Director and coaches highlights the need for an open and public process that is orderly and fair. It also can shed light on how boards and administrative bodies work to solve highly emotional issues. Sitting in front of a group of your peers and making decisions that can drastically affect lives is difficult, but those who aspire to these positions have done so willingly and must face the results of their actions. In our interviews, board members will be asked about recent cases and how they intend to direct our schools.
Tri-City Voice has been interviewing candidates for office and will continue to do so as the election draws near. We plan to visit with candidates for council seats, school boards and other offices. Although some of those interviewed may not be subject to your vote, it is often instructive to listen to all candidates whether running in your district or not, since these people have a viewpoint that may have a direct bearing on your life in the Tri-City area. I hope you look forward to comments from the candidates. I certainly do.