Opinion: Dear Winners …
Congratulations to Ron Barbian, Rich Busalacchi, Tom Slota and Melanie Kuzmanovic on a well-earned election or re-election. Please enjoy the positive affirmation our community gave you on April 5 in our nonpartisan races. I give you credit for stepping up to do this hard work and for taking the heat and tough criticism that often comes with elected office in our Village.
Likely you — and your opponents — said some unfair or unkind things about each other. It is highly likely some your friends and staunchest supporters said some fairly nasty things in your behalf as well. If you haven’t done so already, you might want to send your opponents a personal note of regret for that, and appreciation for their sacrifice and willingness to step up too.
Shout-outs to Mary Grogan, Andrea Bender, Brian Schuk, Carl Genz and Bill Kewan. I was trounced in my only run for elected office (by Ron Barbian no less). So, I know that running for office is hard work and losing is no fun. I also know I got more out of the experience than I put into it. I urge each of you stay involved and engaged in our community. Perhaps Greendale will see some of you on the ballot next April.
As freshly minted Trustee-elect Busalacchi wrote to Everything Greendale on April 6, “Candidates who once opposed each other now need to find peace with each other for the greater good of our residents and our village. We must now all find a way to work and come together.”
That is a noble sentiment. In reality, you need to look no further than the comments sections of Everything Greendale and the GreendaleNOW to witness just a tiny sliver of the mean-spiritedness expressed on all sides before — and after — Tuesday’s election.
For example, in an early morning text the day after the election, school board insider, Highland View parent and serial anonymous commenter, Jason Patzfahl assaulted my iPhone with the Donald Trump treatment — unsolicited — and out of the blue.
As is his wont, he then went on to make some inappropriate ad hominem attacks against my family. Typically, I ignore his foolishness. In truth, I’ve heard from all sides who thought Everything Greendale’s election coverage was biased against them or their favored candidate. That usually means I am doing my job.
Sadly, he’s not the only school board insider, board member or member’s spouse expressing equally disquieting sentiments both privately and publicly in the days before and following the election. Frankly, I’m not sure this is the kind of example you want to be setting for Greendale’s youth or for the future of your boards you worked so hard to stay on or join.
I wonder, is it still possible to disagree without being disagreeable? Or, have some of our leaders become so thin-skinned, inward looking and self-important that they are reactionary to even the slightest amount of criticism?
Greendale’s new superintendent of schools doesn’t start until July. In the meantime, school board insiders may already be poisoning the well for him and showing their true colors. Gary Kiltz may be the district’s best chance for long-term success — especially if there is a community expectation that school board members do better work.
To build a healthy community and tackle some difficult challenges ahead, Greendale’s leaders need to reach out to others in the Village who have different knowledge, points of view and experiences. It is hard work. Personally, I am looking forward to the next joint meeting between the school and Village boards. When will that be, exactly? It is also long past time for the school board and village leaders to at least try to bring their detractors into the tent.
Greendale is full of amazing, community-minded people. I can attest to that as I have met scores of amazing individuals that lift me up and make me a better person by having them in my life. There are plenty of kind, secure, and happy people out there who have gratitude and who spread joy to others. That is the kind of Greendale I want to live in.
How about you?
P.S.: Thanks to the candidates for taking down your lawn signs! And, if you want some good 538-esque analysis of April’s elections, check out Mark Kapacious’ latest blog post on Everything Greendale. To read it, please click here.
A Parting Gif…
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