By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
With the exception of one person, the discussion about the school bond proposal has been very civil, no mater what side of the issue a person may have taken.
I have appreciated the discussion even from those who were on the opposite side.
All people were generally concerned about the issue at hand, and the bad feelings of the past were more or less left there.
There were a handful who still asked about trust issues with the school board, and whether they would follow through with what they said they would do, and those are good questions to have.
Five years ago, the public did not have as much access to the process, but we all learned from that.
This time, the public was very engaged, and we here at the newspaper did everything we could to keep the discussions in front of you so that you would know what was being discussed, what the options were, and whether you agreed or disagreed, you would have the information.
There are some who believe Facebook is a great way to be informed, but many of them were unaware of the countless public meetings that took place to inform the community.
And yet, there was not fingerpointing and namecalling, but a true effort to jump on Facebook and inform those who might have been hearing misinformation about the bond.
As a member of the committee promoting the bond, I have to say that was the biggest challenge — making sure people could separate the fact form the fiction.
On its own, the plan was widely accepted when we were able to talk to people, but the rumors of buying tablets, building a new central office and other falsehoods were the biggest concerns when we talked to the public.
When they knew we weren’t doing those things, they were generally supportive.
We still don’t know the results yet, but I can say that I have fought the good fight, and I have finished the race however it comes out tonight.
There is little more that could have been said or done.
And so tomorrow, we will still be Liberal, and the sun will rise.
I challenge you, on whichever side you may have taken, that the biggest thing we learned from this process was to listen to each other.
Too often, lines are drawn, by political parties or special interests, and we choose not to listen or consider anyone else’s ideas because we have precluded it to be unworthy.
Likewise, if someone opposes our view, we tend to define them as the enemy.
During these discussions, it is my hope that we learned to listen to each other, even if it was something we didn’t want to hear, and still shake hands at the end.
Tonight, someone will win and someone will lose.
Whoever wins, I would ask you not to gloat, and not to say that the other view was wrong.
We still have challenges as a community beyond our schools, and we still need to discuss them, consider solutions and present options on how we move forward.
Everyone will have to be involved in those discussions and in the process.
We may have differed on this issue, but I still respect all those who took the time to listen, to hear the proposal and then go have their voices heard at the polls.
For the most part, trust has been re-established between the citizens and their district. There were no hidden agendas at the meetings, no private discussions. This was done in the sunshine.
Will I be disappointed if the bond fails tonight? Sure I will. But there will be others who will be disappointed if it passes.
In the end, we all have to come together and move forward whatever the outcome, and we have to be united not in the results of an election, but in a process that makes sure we all had a chance to be heard.
I don’t know of any other process that could have done it any better.
Whether voting yes or no, you listened, and you probably grew tired of listening.
For listening, I thank you. For that one rude person who believed public education is unnecessary and should be privatized, and that a ‘no’ vote would be acceptable because it would “make us hurt,” I have no sympathy for you. But I also won’t consider all no votes to have that view.
Win or lose, the election ends today, and I believe we are a better community because we were able to have this discussion with civility and respect. That alone will makes us better off.