Holy Halloween! I’m writing this Tuesday afternoon and it’s scary out there. And I’m not just talking about the ice-covered streets in town — although Lord knows those are still pretty scary three days after the first big winter storm. The kids are all dressed up and if I see another zombie Taylor Swift I’ll wear all my friendship bracelets to The Eras Tour movie. Now that’d be scary!
Based on its letter to me on page 3 the local Republican Party is apparently scared. I sort of get it since they are frustrated that a more right-wing flavor in the valley doesn’t exist even though they live in a bowl of blue situated between a full plate of red Trump signs lining the highway around Montrose and Salida.
This time, based on emails to both county papers, they are scared that three of the local school board candidates are secretly super lefty Manchurian Candidates (great costume idea!) ready to spring Marxist ideology on our kids the first chance they get. Boo!
Their evidence is that Anne Brookhart, Jody Coleman and Mark VanderVeer accepted money from the local teachers’ union (as each acknowledged in last week’s CB News). The Gunnison County Education Association is associated with the larger Colorado Education Association that last spring weirdly passed a resolution saying capitalism is a system opposed to addressing climate change, systemic racism, patriarchy, education inequality and income inequality. I don’t agree with the black-and-white assumptions, but I don’t really lose sleep over what a history teacher in Aurora writes. Empty resolutions are not that scary to me. The local GOPers might look at what our local GOP congressional representative is doing between creepy Beetlejuice dates to encourage the actions of a real Marxist-Leninist pushing to end democracy on the edge of Europe. But that’s for another time…and could be long-term nightmare stuff.
On the local union front, the school district administration and teacher’s union seem to be on the same page — pay teachers enough of a living wage so they can comfortably live in the area and teach our kids. Unlike some in the local Republican Party, the union and school administration reps do not seem to have a knee-jerk hostility toward one another, but rather search for ways to collaborate. That is nothing to be afraid of either. And of course, all six candidates were invited to participate in the potential local GCEA funding process but only Mark, Jody and Anne bothered to reply. The two candidates funded by the Republican Party didn’t bother to even respond to the union inquiry at all.
Scared that I might be missing something, I asked the three candidates who accepted the money if they were closeted Marxists wanting to take us to 1920s Russia. They denied that they are. Anne made clear capitalism is a great tool in our society. “Capitalist society requires and rewards well educated workers, such as teachers and ultimately those they teach. I am proud to have the support of our teachers,” she said.
Mark is also a fan of capitalism. “I am an independent thinker and as a school board member I will work to support our students, administration, teachers, parents and community members. I am 100% confident that I can negotiate future union contracts in an independent manner — my integrity and independence have not been bought and are not for sale. As for capitalism – my beliefs are not aligned with the state CEA union. I think as an economic and political system that capitalism fosters growth and innovation and has helped the United States become the great nation we are,” he stated.
Jody too seems able to separate empty resolutions from the good work needed to support education in the valley. “We listen to the constituents,” she said. “We think independently and respectfully appreciate others’ perspectives. I can work independently to negotiate all salaried contracts on behalf of the constituents, all constituents. No 1920s Russia for GWSD.”
The Gunnison County Education Association has publicly made clear they support candidates that value collaboration, support students and who will be good stewards of our public schools. While the local Republicans might find that terrifying, I don’t. That actually doesn’t sound too alarming.
What might be a bit alarming (but not yet surprising) is that the ballots are trickling in slowly to the county elections office. The first pick-up at the North Valley’s three drop boxes this week garnered just 150 ballots. Scary snowy streets might have played a factor. Slow returns are also happening in the Gunnison area. I’ll stick with my prediction that those on the right will turn out. Good on ‘em. Every eligible voter should take the 10 minutes to vote in this election.
The school board election will be decided by turnout and as much as my friends and neighbors in CB like to wait until Election Day to return a ballot, it helps those tallying the results if you return the ballots before then. So, mark your ballots and make sure your friends do as well, and get them back to the county sooner rather than later. There is less than a week to do that.
There are some really scary things going on in the world right now. The local school board election should not be considered in the top 10. Don’t fall into the “Don’t look there, look here” fear tactics espoused by some. But don’t ignore the election either.
Last week I wrote about why I like Brookhart, VanderVeer and Coleman for the school board. I still do.
As elected officials I think they will be more grounded than scary and that’s what the county and the kids need.