Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Working the Election

The Democratic Primary was yesterday in Virginia. This morning I tore the Brian Moran bumper sticker off my car. He came in third out of the three candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia. Now I have to find a Deeds bumper sticker...

Of course the real race was the one for our Board of Supervisors seat (County Commission, in most states). No incumbent. Three candidates. Tom Childress has been active in the district's Democratic Party as local chair since the 1970's. Robert "Spot" Steele served previously on the school board and tried to take the seat away from a sitting board member in the caucus process a couple of years ago. Davy Woodard is a sitting member of the School Board.

I picked up voting machines on Monday after work. Monday was my last day of the year as a teacher. Other teachers worked Tuesday; I took a personal day. I got to the polls just after 5am. We set up the machines and looked at the new computer-based poll books. All the voter records are on laptops now instead of in big computer printouts. It worked marvelously and I spent the day with two other very pleasant poll workers - waiting for voters to straggle in. Not many did.

Tom is easily the most qualified person on paper. He came in third, despite being well organized and having workers out at the crack of dawn at the poling precincts.

Spot and his wife, Rene', manage a mission that provides food and other items for needy people in the county. That provided for the appearance of conflict of interest (or something like it) in the caucus process a couple of years ago. There's some overlap between those who vote for him and those who are served by the mission.

Davy's a nice guy without much political experience.

Tom and Spot had signs and people at the polls. Davy won by six votes.

Voter turn out was just the other side of pitiful. In my precinct, 51 of the 778 registered voters turned out. My precinct was strong for Spot in past elections. If 10 more people had made it to the polls in Adria, Spot would have won the election by a vote or two.

And people feel like their vote doesn't really matter...


Anonymous said...

Turn was the key ... if woodard wins I think you should run for SB .

Anonymous said...

Go more in depth with this analysis...

Greg_Cruey said...

You’re right. Turnout was the key. I’m sure that Tom and Spot both would tell you that if they’d gotten more of their people out, they probably would have won.

Me on the school board? I appreciate that complement. My granddad was on the school board a long time ago. I used to think about it.

As an educator, it would be easy to convince myself that a seat on a local school board would be the pinnacle of achievement, or give me the opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of students. The truth is that local school board in Virginia today are often petty little bodies that manage what insufficient funding the state and local governments toss their way, since they can’t fund their own budgets despite being elected. On most issues of substance they are led around on a tether by their superintendents like farm donkeys with blinders on. Steve Davis summed it up well at the second hearing on Pocahontas HS when he said something to the effect of that Dr. Lawson was their superintendent and they’d heard her read a report and, well, they just HAD to believe her.

If you weren’t anonymous, I’d bet you a dinner at Big Daddy's that most of our school board members can’t name the five components of reading, can’t tell you what RTI or LRE stand for, and can’t explain what a spiral curriculum is. Why should they? Virginia law holds them personally accountable for budget deficits, but not for reading scores.

The current board makes meaningful personnel decisions at board meetings and I'm sure they struggle together with budget issues. But otherwise the most substantial educational decision they've made that I'm aware of probably has to do with the dress code. After all, they succeeded in make the male teachers wear neckties. (But what do I know? I don't have kids in the system now.)

I don’t figure that the current board members or the superintendent would be particularly thrilled to see me step into that seat. Rene’ would likely tell people that I only got the seat because Spot couldn’t run against me (without resigning as a system employee, anyway). I’d probably be the “one” in a lot of four-to-one votes and I’d slowly (maybe quickly) begin to look like an irrelevant, fat, gray-headed curmudgeon. People would point at me on the streets and say, “There goes Mr. Cruey. He never gets what he wants on the school board…”

I think I’ll pass. I don’t see much educational glory coming my way there and the district would probably be better served by someone else.

Anonymous said...

Well guess you killed the SB idea maybe you should have run for Board of Supv instead . Or wait till we get a new Supt of schools