2014-01-24 / Opinion

Thinking Ahead to Elections

To the Editor:

The recent news report that there may be more candidates interested in running for the School Committee this year is good news indeed. In fact, all levels of local and state government would benefit from additional candidates and, hopefully, the report about the School Committee is a signal of more to come. Last time around, in 2012, many candidates went unchallenged while running for the General Assembly, the City Council and especially for the School Committee. Only seven candidates ran for seven positions. Of course, these comments in no way disparage those who ran and served and we certainly owe them a debt of gratitude. However, the system is predicated on the need for a community-wide commitment to participation and debate among all the representative individuals and groups throughout the city. As we know full well, the process requires that no one should run unopposed; rather, all should be vigorously challenged with all issues openly aired.

The School Committee, with the new Pell Elementary School up and running and a new superintendent starting out with enthusiasm and commitment, should especially draw considerable community attention and support. Arguably, we can talk all we want about any number of significant and important initiatives to improve our city, but the success of our public education system sits atop any serious list. Failure is not an option here, and the residents of Newport have every right to expect marked improvement given the community investment and support so evident in Pell. It is not an overstatement to emphasizee that the opening of Pell is far and away the most important event in years and one that demands our unqualified focused commitment.

However, all will be for naught if we have a repeat of 2012 and very few candidates step up and compete, thereby bringing little new energy and new ideas to the electoral process. Back in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously and arguably insisted that “we get the government we deserve.” More electoral apathy and indifference this time around will surely impair us going forward and will create a legacy burdening our future. Our children deserve better. Dave Wixted


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